new-york

Larry Johnson

303 Gallery

Larry Johnson has been photographing texts appropriated from mass media sources, such as People magazine and star bios, for several years now. These works bear comparison to the work of Richard Prince, in that both manifest obvious relations to theoretical issues surrounding photography and appropriation. At this point, however, appropriation is a given rather than a critical issue in Johnson’s photographs. The compromise, or loss, of originality occurs not in his work but in the texts themselves, from the moment they are first published. Johnson takes these cliched and entirely codified voices and restores to them a certain autonomy, as if reaching through the congealed and inert surface of the prose and bringing back something like emotion. He accomplishes this in part through his distinctive formal means: the texts float on backgrounds that recall both color-field abstraction and

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