Extended through June 30, 2018
Gagosian is pleased to present About Photography, an exhibition by artists, modern and contemporary, who have exhibited with the gallery over the past four decades.
About Photography explores the ways in which artists use photography as a medium, a means to an end, and a catalyst for other art forms. From Andy Warhol to Richard Prince, these artists open up the question of what it means to utilize the photographic medium for representation, as well as in the creation of form. As intellectual challenges continue to unfold, photography pervades not only all other artistic genres, but our every moment as well, a phenomenon that has irrevocably changed the nature of art itself.
The exhibition’s only sculpture, Duane Hanson’s Man with Camera (1991–92), takes center stage: a figure perched on a folding chair poises his camera to take a photograph. Celebrated for their startling realism, Hanson’s figures and the “snapshot of America” that they constitute take on new meaning in a photographic context. Nearby, Andy Warhol’s Screen Test of Edie Sedgwick (1965) is projected on the entrance wall. Richard Avedon’s portraits of Louis Armstrong (1955), Bob Dylan (1963), Malcolm X (1963), and members of Warhol’s Factory (1969–75) create an interlocking narrative about photography and society, contrasting with both the aesthetics and implications of Hanson’s figure.
Fifty years after Diane Arbus began shooting her unsettling black-and-white portraits of ordinary Americans on a medium-format Rolleiflex, producing distinctive, square photographs, Richard Prince’s Untitled (portrait) (2015) borrows the characteristic text and cropping of an Instagram post. An avid documenter and collector of American subcultures, Prince uses mass-media images to redefine concepts of ownership and authorship. Here, his examination of the contemporary channels and distribution of the photograph stands in stark contrast to Arbus’s iconic portraits, including Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J. (1966).
While Ed Ruscha’s deadpan series Vacant Lots (1970–2003) memorializes Los Angeles’s vernacular architecture, now largely overbuilt, the dissonance between nature and the incursion of commerce and popular culture is made evident in Andreas Gursky’s SH II (2014), in which a superhero sits alone in a desolate landscape.
Adam McEwen’s fictive obituary of the living American novelist Bret Easton Ellis (2007) is not a traditionally captured photograph, but a composite image made into a photographic print. In Monster Reborn (2002), Douglas Gordon presents himself in a Jekyll-and-Hyde photographic diptych; and, in the four-part Self Portrait of You + Me and Me + You + You + Me + Me + You (2011), he employs mirrors alongside photographs, so that artist and viewer can participate equally in the dual process of reflection and refraction.
Chris Burden documented his radical performances between 1971 and 1973 in silver gelatin prints and C-prints, collated into a single book with a hand-painted cover (1974). Each day of the exhibition’s run, a page of the book will be turned to display Burden’s iconoclastic images progressively. For her ongoing Black Square series (2006–), Taryn Simon shows objects, documents, and individuals within a black field that has precisely the same measurements as Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 Suprematist work of the same name. Black Square VII (2012) depicts the Picturephone, an artifact from the 1964 New York World’s Fair, while Black Square XX (2016) shows the ballot count for the European Union membership referendum, or Brexit vote, of the Inner London Borough of Haringey—a tally that went in the minority, with 24.3 percent voting “Leave,” and 75.4 percent “Remain.”
The central role of light in photography is also explored throughout the exhibition. Piero Golia captures the night sky above San Fernando Valley; Richard Phillips’s photorealistic portrait of a woman’s face is expertly painted in grayscale; and Dike Blair’s pensive still-life paintings give quiet, meditative pause and abstract form to otherwise unremarkable objects and details such as half-filled cups and desk edges. With Remembered Light, Untitled (Light on Wall and Bench) (2012), Sally Mann, in one of the many photographs she took of Cy Twombly’s Virginia studio over the course of their friendship, indicates the haptic processes that were part of his environment, while Twombly’s own images, such as Lemon (Gaeta) (2006), offer even more personal glimpses at the objects that populated his daily life. Even without the artist’s actual presence, the intimate photographs vividly evoke his human traces.
Featuring works by Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Dike Blair, Chris Burden, Gregory Crewdson, Roe Ethridge, Urs Fischer, Ralph Gibson, Nan Goldin, Piero Golia, Douglas Gordon, Andreas Gursky, Duane Hanson, Seydou Keita, Vera Lutter, Florian Maier-Aichen, Sally Mann, Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe, Adam McEwen, Richard Phillips, Jean Pigozzi, Richard Prince, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Taryn Simon, Patti Smith, Cy Twombly, Jeff Wall, and Andy Warhol.
Deluxe Photo Book
Sydney Stutterheim discusses Chris Burden’s Deluxe Photo Book 1971–73 on the occasion of its inclusion in About Photography at Gagosian San Francisco.
“Things Fall Apart”: Ed Ruscha’s Swiped Words
Lisa Turvey examines the range of effects conveyed by the blurred phrases in recent drawings by the artist, detailing the ways these words in motion evoke the experience of the current moment.
For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.
Sydney Stutterheim meditates on the power and possibilities of small-format artworks throughout time.
On Collecting with Norman Diekman
Rare-book expert Douglas Flamm speaks with designer Norman Diekman about his unique collection of books on art and architecture. Diekman describes his first plunge into book collecting, the history behind it, and the way his passion for collecting grew.
Gwen Allen recounts her discovery of cutting-edge artists’ magazines from the 1960s and 1970s and explores the roots and implications of these singular publications.
Uncanny Delights: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray
Catalyzed by the exhibition Crushed, Cast, Constructed: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray, Alice Godwin examines the legacy and development of a Surrealist ethos in selected works from three contemporary sculptors.
Jay DeFeo in the 1970s
September 10–October 31, 2020