Go See-New York: Diane Arbus ‘In the Absence of Others’ and William Eggleston ’21st Century’ at Cheim & Read Gallery through February 13th 2010

January 23rd, 2010

(Newspaper on Ground, Grass, California) (2000) by William Eggleston, via Cheim & Read Gallery

Currently on view at Cheim & Read Gallery in New York are two concurrent photography exhibitions featuring rarely shown photographs by Diane Arbus and William Eggleston.  The works by Diane Arbus are grouped under the “In the Absence of Others” and feature empty rooms  and artificial rooms taken during the 1960s. The exhibition of Eggleston’s works is entitled “21st Century” and highlights his most recent works.

An Empty Movie Theater
(1971), by Diane Arbus, via T Magazine

More text and related links after the jump….

Untitled (Spoon on Windowsill, Kentucky) (1999) by William Eggleston, via Cheim and Read Gallery

Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was born in New York City where she lived and worked throughout her life. Her black and white photographs feature couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, eccentrics, and celebrities. Arbus’s unflinching attention to the detail of her subject matter as well her loyal reverence for the documentary quality of the photographic medium have endowed her photographic images with never ending power and resounding presence.

Arbus is associated with the generation of “street photographers” due largely to her inclusion in MOMA’s 1967 Documents exhibition organized by John Szarkowski. The group included Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand who took their cameras with them along the streets of New York City ready to capture any eclectic and often bizarre juxtapositions that often occurred instantaneously in modern city such as New York. Arbus’s work differs slightly from this approach in that she rarely shot chance encounters spur of the moment, but rather studied her subjects carefully taking in the context and circumstance around them which consequently instilled great depth in her work. The works in this exhibition featuring intimate bear rooms and seemingly somber landscapes, are like so many of Arbus’s works:  full of paradoxes and multiple meanings.

Untitled (Water on dirt road, Las Pozas, Mexico) (2005) by William Eggleston, via Cheim & Read Gallery

William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee. Eggleston is credited with elevating the status of color photography to a serious art form. During the 1960s and 1970s color photography was associated with considerably mediocre photography used for commercial advertising and family snapshots and was not considered an art form. William Eggleston’s one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976 marks the moment when color photography was first exhibited at a major museum.

Untitled (Side of Brown Stone Wall, Arizone) by Diane Arbus, via Cheim & Read Gallery

Eggleston’s current works on display respond to questions of color, composition, and texture and capture moments and objects which the casual observer so often overlooks. His works of the rural south expose the earthen quality found on various objects, buildings, and landscapes. Seemingly documentary it would be a mistaken to completely label Eggleston’s work as such; his careful attention to formal concerns such as color saturation and pictorial composition could be compared to a painter’s usage of such concepts in order to further heighten his art and elevate the subject matter.

The photographic works by William Eggleston and Diane Arbus are interestingly complementary and set a stage for a review of two of the 20th century’s most esteemed photographers.

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Cheim & Read Gallery]
In Focus: Diane Arbus and William Eggleston [T Magazine]
New Work by William Eggleston and Rare Photos by Diane Arbus at Cheim & Read [Artdaily]