Critics’ Picks

Tim Maul, Throat and Foot, 1979, black-and-white photographs, 16 x 20"

Tim Maul, Throat and Foot, 1979, black-and-white photographs, 16 x 20"


Tim Maul

Florence Loewy
9 rue de Thorigny
March 5–April 23, 2022

Tim Maul’s photographs are hard to contextualize, largely because the artist himself defies categorization. Maul has operated in and around the New York art world since the 1970s, exhibiting alongside its members but never fully embedding himself in the city’s social milieu. It’s perhaps for that reason, or owing to his fastidious avoidance of branding, that Maul never grounded his practice in New York like other members of his generation. In the 1980s, he ventured to Italy, then, a decade later, to Ireland, floating in and out of Manhattan along the way.

This sense of placelessness permeates his latest exhibition, which surveys three decades of photographs. The items and experiences that Maul captures—a hotel-room sconce, a dollar bill, a soap dish— are quotidian to say the least, and he arranges them in seemingly indifferent diptychs and triptychs. In 07/06/78, 1978, a photo of a calendar is sandwiched between two images of light striking different surfaces, while Wet Hair, 1979, offers a trio of photographs featuring a telephone, the back of a woman’s head, and a padlocked door. Maul’s works have always leaned toward melancholy, but now one also detects a degree of sentimentality in his compositions.

The exhibition’s title, “Tim’s Ruler,” suggests that Maul might be angling at a device that can lend order to his subjects. In 07/06/78, the calendar emphasizes the temporality of the events captured in the two accompanying images, cementing their status as artifacts of a particular historical moment. Saturated by such reminiscences—if not nostalgia—Maul’s rigid approach to measuring the passage of time allows a delicate narrative to take root within and between the photographs.