Extended through May 30, 2020
It’s more about harmony and disharmony than making meaning or illustrating a thesis. It’s synesthesia. It’s a feeling. It’s a sound. It’s a vibration.
Gagosian is pleased to present Old Fruit, an exhibition of photographs by Roe Ethridge spanning the past twenty years. This is his first solo exhibition with the gallery in New York, following exhibitions in Beverly Hills, Hong Kong, and San Francisco.
Since the turn of the century, Ethridge has exercised a significant influence over young artists in particular, yet opportunities to see groupings of his early work have been rare. Old Fruit, which focuses primarily on his output from the early 2000s, offers a valuable chance to revisit many highly regarded and widely reproduced images that embody new ways of understanding the medium of photography in the context of emergent technological and social currents.
Expanding on the visual and critical syntaxes of photographers from Paul Outerbridge to Andreas Gursky, Ethridge strategically crisscrosses the zones of artistic, commercial, and vernacular imagery, encouraging the staged and the spontaneous to occupy the same space. Using outtakes from his own commercial and editorial shoots alongside other images, he subverts the residual authority of the portrait, landscape, and still life genres to match his own consciously ambiguous ends. While applying high production values and acknowledging the conventions of picture making, he introduces subtle conceptual twists and formal glitches that destabilize our ingrained faith in the function and authority of these elements. Courting a certain aesthetic discomfort, his interest is in producing images that are, as he puts it, “‘right’ in their wrongness.”
The approach taken in Old Fruit is unusual for Ethridge insofar as the works are arranged typologically as well as formally. The exhibition’s earliest photograph is Refrigerator (1999), a key image in Ethridge’s oeuvre that echoes an earlier still life by William Eggleston. Shot at his parents’ home as a commission for an unpublished New York Times editorial assignment about vernacular decor, the work, along with others in the exhibition, encapsulates multiple genres, here in part by incorporating additional images in the form of postcards, snapshots, and decals affixed to the front of the appliance. Refrigerator is emblematic, too, of Ethridge’s ability to communicate a direct experience of the world while simultaneously maintaining a critical distance from it, blending the personal with the impersonal in a way that anticipates their continual overlap and confusion in the realm of social media.
The photographs in the exhibition are also grouped to contrast the analytical detachment of the Pigeon images (2001–02) with the more emotive—yet still highly staged—look and feel of images such as the notorious 2000 portrait of a bloodied Andrew W.K. (reproduced on the cover of the singer’s 2001 album I Get Wet) and Ambulance Accident (2000). As well as offering a historical perspective, Old Fruit opens up new avenues of inquiry and dialogue within Ethridge’s media-savvy and now pervasive aesthetic, underscoring the value of his particular strains of appropriation, stylization, and nonlinear juxtaposition.
Roe Ethridge and Antwaun Sargent
From his early work for magazines in the 1990s to recent projects with the designer Telfar Clemens, Roe Ethridge has consistently challenged the distinctions between commercial and conceptual photography that long defined the medium. Antwaun Sargent recently caught up with him to discuss the moment that confirmed the artist’s understanding of the photographic image’s potential for boundary-hopping ubiquity in the contemporary era.
Twelve Tracks: Roe Ethridge
Roe Ethridge shares the transportive powers of his playlist “Teenage Chemicals in 1985,” a soundtrack that began playing in those formative years and hasn’t stopped since.
During a conversation with David Rimanelli, Roe Ethridge reflected on photographs that he made during the late 1990s and early 2000s after moving to New York. They spoke as Ethridge was preparing for his exhibition Old Fruit.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Picasso and Maya: An Interview with Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso
Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso curated an exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, in 2017–18 titled Picasso and Maya: Father and Daughter. To celebrate the exhibition, a publication was published in 2019; the comprehensive reference publication explores the figure of Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s beloved eldest daughter, throughout Picasso’s work and chronicles the loving relationship between the artist and his daughter. In this video, Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso details her ongoing interest in the subject and reflects on the process of making the book.
Self-Reflections: Roe Ethridge Innocence II
Angela Brown considers the wide-ranging photographs included in Roe Ethridge: Innocence II.
April 29–May 5, 2020
In his photographs, Roe Ethridge uses the real to suggest—or disrupt—the ideal. Through commercial images of fashion models, products, and advertisements, as well as intimate moments from his own daily life, he subverts the residual authority of established artistic genres such as the still life or the portrait, merging them with the increasingly pervasive image culture of the present. The continuous cross-pollination of fine art and applied photography has come to be the hallmark of Ethridge’s practice.
Photo: Vincent Dilio