new-york

James Welling

Metro Pictures

On entering James Welling’s show, I came to a photograph that seemed a little obscure. The top three-fourths of it were absolutely black, so nothing could be made of that part of it at all. And across the bottom there was a field of . . . or no, perhaps it was more like an activation, or even a manipulation. Whatever it was, it was white, a broken pattern of whiteness—snow on a mountain, lightning in a vacuum tube, angel dust in a crumpled glassine envelope. It occurred to me that it might just be some game Welling was up to in the darkroom. Maybe he had scratched an unexposed negative with a stylus or indulged in some other manner of abstract expressionism. But then I rejected that thought again. There was unquestionably something there; but what thing? I must try to be accurate. I must be true to the impressions and feelings I had at the time. What I saw seemed to me, basically, a bunch

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