Critics’ Picks

Nathan Harger, Untitled (Power Lines), Elizabeth, NJ, 2008, digital C-print, 42 x 28".

New York

“Contradictions in Black and White”

Hasted Kraeutler
537 West 24th Street
January 8 - February 28

The artists in this group exhibition gently tease out the limitations of still life and landscape, transforming both constructed and natural subjects into unrecognizable, formalist experiments. Irving Penn presents an everyday object, Deli Package, New York, 1975, as a flattened, grainy, X-ray-like image. Barfield, 2003, Michael Flomen’s photograph of a snowy day, is suggestive of a sleek, eerie moonscape. The light-dappled field produced by scattering fireflies in Flomen’s Being, 2000, resembles the swarm of mechanical objects in Margaret Bourke White’s adjacent Russel Birdsall & Ward Bolt and Nut Company, 1930. The show is rich in such juxtapositions, comparing emerging and established artists who share an affinity in subject matter, technique, or composition. A graceful zigzag of power lines echoes between Nathan Hargar’s pared-down Untitled (Power Lines), Elizabeth, NJ, 2008, and Ray K. Metzker’s dizzying Philadelphia: Double Frame, 1965/1972, where the lines, dwarfed by the silhouette of a traffic light, are layered to rhythmic, playful effect. Recasting commonplace objects, Horacio Salinas heightens the texture of a tire curved like a Möbius strip in Sauropod, 2007–2008, whereas Adam Fuss diffuses a muted, powdery light in his soft, gaseous photogram. Like their still-life counterparts in the show, the cityscapes captured in Vera Lutter’s camera-obscura renderings of Venice and Harry Callahan’s dizzying facade of windows in Chicago, 1948, demonstrate a capacity to reinvent familiar terrain as otherworldly abstraction.