When I arrived at the beach, it was littered with broken umbrellas and various other “day at the beach” sundries. It had that semi-apocalyptic vibe that permeates everything nowadays but was also joyful in an archaeological way, like discovering the remains of a party or ritual celebration.
Gagosian is pleased to present Beach Umbrella, an exhibition of new photographs by Roe Ethridge.
Moving fluidly between the realms of fine art, fashion photography, stock imagery, and social media, Ethridge juxtaposes carefully staged scenes with vignettes from everyday life, pursuing a visual language that is, in his own words, “‘right’ in its wrongness.” Investigating the constant tension between chance occurrence and the photographer’s editorial eye, he produces surreal and theatrical images that reflect the textures of modern society.
On four Mondays in July and August last summer, Ethridge photographed an assortment of discarded umbrellas at Rockaway Beach, New York. Positioned against the sun, shot from beneath, and cropped to the point of near abstraction, the umbrellas fill each image from edge to edge with vibrant color, their wedges of luminous fabric stretched against graphic metal frames. In one picture, a broad, rainbow-hued umbrella arches over a volleyball and an open pack of cigarettes, casting the objects in a stark and foreign light. The resulting still life seems highly contrived, blurring the line between realism and artifice.
Ethridge also explores additional unorthodox visual techniques throughout the series. In Beach Umbrella with Cup and Flip Flops (2020), he digitally montages multiple images atop each other: a palm tree–patterned umbrella intervenes with a pair of blue flip-flops, a discarded blue plastic cup, and a fallen red warning flag. With its strange geometries and crimson hue, the final composition evokes the multiplied warm-toned photographs printed on brass featured in Ethridge’s 2017 exhibition Innocence II. Other seemingly more straightforward images depict an untended and bent-over sunflower and the model Maryel Sousa in a swimsuit and faux fur coat with pink zinc on her nose, a beach umbrella slung over her shoulder. Haunting in their mundanity and utter solitude, these works exemplify Ethridge’s ability to evince uncanny and stylized forms through precise explorations of color, kitsch, and cultural symbolism.
Beach Umbrella is accompanied by a full-color illustrated catalogue with a text by Ethridge, available at the Gagosian Shop.
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-Picasso
Diana Widmaier-Picasso curated a presentation at Gagosian, Paris, to celebrate the publication of Picasso and Maya: Father and Daughter at the end of 2019. This 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-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.
Extended through May 30, 2020
February 26–May 30, 2020
976 Madison Avenue, New York