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Taryn Simon

The Color of a Flea’s Eye: The Picture Collection

July 14–September 11, 2021
976 Madison Avenue, New York

Installation view Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Works Exhibited

Taryn Simon, Folder: Broken Objects, 2012 Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP© Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Folder: Broken Objects, 2012

Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP
© Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Folder: Waiting Rooms, 2012 Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP© Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Folder: Waiting Rooms, 2012

Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP
© Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Folder: Explosion, 2012 Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP© Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Folder: Explosion, 2012

Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP
© Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Folder: Financial Panics, 2012 Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP© Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Folder: Financial Panics, 2012

Archival inkjet print, 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm), edition of 5 + 2 AP
© Taryn Simon

About

Gagosian is pleased to announce The Color of a Flea’s Eye: The Picture Collection by Taryn Simon, an exhibition in two parts at Gagosian 976 Madison Avenue and, opening this fall, at the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

In her work, Simon engages organizational systems—bloodlines, criminal investigations, mourning, global diplomacy—to reveal the hidden contours of authority. From photography to sculpture, text, sound, and performance, her projects involve extensive field research both on and with archives, individuals, and institutions.

Nine years in the making, The Color of a Flea’s Eye foregrounds the history of the New York Public Library’s Picture Collection, whose storied contents have been available, for more than a century, for patrons to sift through in search of visual references of every conceivable kind. In 1929, Romana Javitz became the collection’s superintendent, shaping its ethos and the processes governing its growing circulation. Among her many pioneering efforts was a campaign to pointedly diversify the collection’s offerings by preserving a wide-ranging record of the country’s overlooked subjects, including folk art, documentary photography, and portrayals of African American life.

Decades before the advent of Internet search engines, the Picture Collection’s democratic classification system was designed, under Javitz’s influence, to respond to individual users, whose daily requests and interventions created a manual algorithm by which materials were transmitted back into American culture, thereby reshaping it. Used by journalists, historians, filmmakers, designers, advertisers, and the US military, the Picture Collection has also been an especially vital resource for artists. Diego Rivera consulted it for his controversial Rockefeller Center mural, Man at the Crossroads (1932–33); Joseph Cornell drew from it to make his boxed assemblages of the 1940s; and throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Andy Warhol sourced a trove of images, many never returned, that were foundational for his illustrations and paintings.

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News

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

Artist Spotlight

Taryn Simon

June 23–29, 2021

A storyteller and researcher driven by the mutability of fact and the documentary potential of fiction, Taryn Simon directs our attention to systems of organization—bloodlines, circulating picture collections, mourning rituals, ceremonial flower arrangements—revealing the structures of power and authority hidden within. Working in photography, sculpture, text, sound, performance, and installation, she traces lineages of objects, families, nations, and histories.

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe