Charles Hagen

  • Doug Prince

    In the series of black-and-white photographs shown here Doug Prince has printed close-ups of various plants and flowers, or occasionally classical busts, over Italian scenes (landscapes, architectural details, interiors). From such a bare description this might seem simply a shrewd exercise in mixing and matching images from two categories of the conventionally pretty, in hopes of breathing a little artiness into stale genre subjects while retaining the reassuring appeal of the components of the scenes. Something more interesting actually results, however, for the pictures violate their own

  • Frank Gohlke

    Working now in color, Frank Gohlke continues to pursue the classic Modernist style of photography, based on the medium’s descriptive abilities, for which he is best known. Here he showed mostly landscapes, taken in rural Mississippi and Tennessee as well as in the Auvergne and Burgundy regions of France. One of the great strengths of this particular branch of photographic Modernist style, which involves the use of clear lighting, simple compositions, and great detail, and which is perhaps best exemplified by Walker Evans’ work, is its ability to encompass a vast range of seemingly mundane aspects

  • Mark Cohen

    Mark Cohen’s photographs from the mid ’70s were gritty, not only in their physical qualities—black and white, grainy, usually shot with a blistering flash—but also in their subjects. Many of Cohen’s best-known pictures from that period are of street life in Wilkes-Barre, the small industrial city in north-eastern Pennsylvania where he lives. But Cohen’s work has never been sociological, even though the people and settings in his photographs—shoppers scurrying down a main street at dusk, teenagers clowning around in a park—are recognizable social types. Instead he relies on a working method and

  • Richard Pare

    It’s understandable that many of Richard Pare’s photographs would be of buildings; Pare is the curator of photography for both the Canadian Centre for Architecture and for the Seagram Collection of architectural photography Several of the large color photographs shown here are almost homages, with the title indicating not only where and when the picture was taken, but who designed the building depicted and when it was built. Not that his photographs are simple; Pare makes no attempt at the kind of straightforward, fully lit, foursquare overview of a building that is a staple of this kind of

  • “Art & Advertising: Commercial Photography by Artists”

    The theme of this exhibition, which juxtaposed examples of work done by photographers on commercial assignment with “art” work by those same photographers, can be seen as either banal or profound. It’s no revelation that photographer-artists moonlight, out of necessity or choice. Nor is it only commercially unsuccessful artists who apply their skills to projects outside what is usually considered the art world.

    What gives a special twist to the question of art versus commerce in connection with the photographers here is that several of them—including Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Frank

  • Jerry N. Uelsmann

    Not so long ago, when the Modernist injunction against interfering with the unity of space provided by camera and lens still dominated critical debate in photography, Jerry N. Uelsmann’s technique of overprinting fragments of half a dozen or more negatives was enough to earn him a reputation as a formal innovator. Now, though, when the boundaries between photography and other media have been first blurred and then erased, Uelsmann’s darkroom manipulations have come to seem simply one more set of picturemaking tools. The issue has become what Uelsmann uses those tools for—and the answer is, at

  • Lumières: Perception-Projection”

    This grab bag of an exhibition included installations by a host of artists from Europe, the United States, and Canada, all more or less using light as a central element. While much of the work had been produced specifically for this show, many of the pieces by European and American artists—for example, James Turrell’s Danaë, 1983, and Jon Kessler’s B.C., 1985—were familiar from other exhibitions. Not all the pieces were particularly recent, either: Keith Sonnier’s elegant neon calligraphs from 1979 and Dan Flavin’s Untitled (to Barnett Newman), 1973, were included as well. None, however, had

  • Lynne Cohen

    There’s always some more-or-less odd element in the rooms Lynne Cohen photographs. Sometimes these elements are strikingly unusual; for example, in Classroom in a mortuary school, n.d., huge disembodied models of an ear, lips, and a nose hang high on a wood-paneled wall. More often. Cohen photographs things that we might take for granted—stuffed animal heads on the wall above a stairwell, rows of photos of the leaders of an Elks lodge, samples of fake-brick paneling on the wall of a contractor’s showroom. But by depicting these scenes in a cool, deadpan style—evenly lit, in black and white prints

  • Rosalind Solomon

    This show was subtitled “Ritual,” and most of the photographs in it were of weddings, burials, and other ceremonies in Latin America and India. Despite this, the point of Rosalind Solomon’s pictures is neither documentary nor anthropological. Solomon usually provides only the barest of wall labels to identify the events she depicts, and the few pictures shown here covered such a wide range of rituals that no analysis of any one of them was offered by the way they were grouped. In her photographs Solomon seems to want to propose something about rituals in general, or about the function of rituals

  • Isamu Noguchi

    It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate centerpiece for Isamu Noguchi’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale than Slide Mantra, 1986. This sweeping white marble spiral incorporates many of the central influences on his work of the past 50 years, including Modernist biomorphic abstraction and the carefully considered, meditative naturalism of Japanese gardens. It demonstrates as well his profound sensitivity to the sensuous properties of materials, and reflects the dual role Noguchi has taken for himself as a sculptor: as a creator both of formally expressive objects and of environments for people

  • Candid Camera

    ROBERT FRANK HAS BECOME an enigma merely by following the dictates of his own work. It’s been thirty years since he took the pictures for The Americans, 1959, the photographic bildungsroman of ’50s America for which he’s still best known. In the years since, as successive generations of photographers have acknowledged the enormous influence his work has had on them, he has increasingly become a figure of rumor and conjecture outside the circle of his immediate acquaintances. Although he still maintains a small studio in New York, fifteen years ago he moved with the painter June Leaf to a farm

  • Vikky Alexander

    Along one wall of this narrow gallery Vikky Alexander placed a row of mirrors at eye level; just below them was a matching stretch of dark wood paneling, corporate-posh in its swirling grain. The opposite wall was covered, from side to side and from top to (almost) bottom, with one of those huge, stick-on photomurals of a beautiful mountain scene. If there’d been a desk around you might well have thought you’d stepped into the badly decorated reception area of a tool-and-die company in some anonymous industrial park.

    But these allusions to bad corporate taste were only a part of Alexander’s

  • “FSA: The Illiterate Eye”

    The argument that much of the photographic work done for the Farm Security Administration in the ’30s and ’40s was simply propaganda for New Deal farm policies has become a critical commonplace. The work of this Depression-era documentary group has long been celebrated as an example of the use of photography to achieve social reform as well as an important attempt to depict the full scope of society. In recent years, though, critics and scholars have pointed out the editorial control exerted by Roy Stryker, the economist who directed the Historical Section of the FSA. Stryker not only sent out

  • L’Amour Fou

    Why did photography play such an important role in Surrealist art? It was this question that provided the impetus for “L’Amour Fou,” a major survey of Surrealist photography cocurated by Rosalind Krauss and Jane Livingston. (The exhibition is now being mounted in San Francisco, and it will then travel to Paris and London.) The fundamental achievement of this fascinating show is that it reminds us that photography did indeed play such a role in the advancement of Surrealism. It demonstrates just how central that role was by assembling an astonishing number of vintage photographs, contemporary

  • The Indelible Image: Photographs of War—1846 to the Present

    The Indelible Image: Photographs Of War-1846 To The Present, ed. Frances Fralin, with an essay by Jane Livingston (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., and Washington D.C.: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1985), 254 pages, 127 black and white photographs, 8 color plates.

    Most photojournalism teeters on an edge between information and voyeurism; war photography, as the extreme case of photojournalism, raises, in the sharpest possible way, basic questions about the nature and purpose of “the news” and news photos: is this picture intended to provide information, to influence my behavior, or merely to titillate

  • Clarence John Laughlin

    If they weren’t so suffocatingly earnest, Clarence John Laughlin’s photographs might seem funny. To the general public, Laughlin, who died in 1985, was best known for Ghosts along the Mississippi, his 1948 book of photographs of the moss-enshrouded ruins of the plantations of the Old South; in other work he plotted a more openly gothic course, depicting such themes as veiled women in graveyards and the like. At times his work seems to touch on the dreamworlds of Surrealism; in other cases it takes on the mock-scary quality of Walt Disney’s Fantasia.

    What makes this situation all the more interesting

  • “Images of Excellence: Photographs from the George Eastman House Collection”

    For several years now the George Eastman House has suffered through a debilitating period of financial upheaval. At one point in this unhappy time, the board of the Rochester, NY museum, which is housed in the former mansion of Kodak magnate George Eastman, threatened to sell off its incomparable collections of photographs and films; later it was ready to ship the museum’s holdings to the Smithsonian Institution. In response to local pressure, Kodak, long the museum’s financial mainstay, recently agreed to provide money for the maintenance of a projected new building. But the museum’s future

  • “Photographs from the Sam Wagstaff Collection at the J. Paul Getty Museum”

    The great photo-market boom of the ’70s remains to be chronicled, although, in the end, probably no single explanation will be adequate for that giddy time. Sam Wagstaff’s photography collection, along with Arnold Crane’s and André Jammes’, was one of the most renowned products of that era. Now major portions of all three have been bought by the Getty Museum; this exhibition offered a chance to see works from the Wagstaff collection before it migrated west.

    In this context, the show was most interesting not for the individual photographs, but as a cross section of the acquisitions of an influential

  • Anthony Hernandez

    In his newest work, Anthony Hernandez reconciles photojournalism and so-called street photography, the genre of art photography that since emerging in the ’30s has numbered among its practitioners Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand. By choosing to photograph Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, Hernandez is able both to document an extreme manifestation of consumer culture, and to find scenes whose significance seems more personal. This juncture of different photographic genres—photojournalism’s implicit attempt at objectivity combined with street photography’s diaristic, interpretive

  • Tina Barney

    Tina Barney photographs life in WASP heaven—sprawling seaside estates in Rhode Island, a lavish Upper East Side apartment, and the like. Most of the people in her scenes have a languid, self-assured attractiveness, as if they’d just stepped out of a Calvin Klein ad. East Beach, 1984, for example, could be used in a lifestyle ad with virtually no changes: a tousled-haired guy in torn jeans and polo shin, sweater tied around his waist, roughhouses with a giggling young girl in the golden glow of sunset. Barney heightens the cloying sweetness of this idyllic picture-perfection through her technique: