New York

Elliott Schwartz

Jayne H. Baum Gallery

Even on the level of object identification, Elliot Schwartz’s photographs are puzzling. He depicts various odd things—a broken light bulb, a model of Rodin’s Thinker with a wedge-shaped head, a pair of bent wires—framed in such a way that they’re obviously the “subjects” of the pictures, even if it’s not quite clear what they are. Many of these images bear a nominal relationship to portraiture—there’s something that looks like a rotting baseball with a cigar in its mouth, while what might be two sticks of dynamite become a pair of eyes beneath a checkered scarf. Printed in various sizes, in black (or blue) and white and scattered irregularly across the wall, Schwartz’s photographs look like a display of trophies in some mutant universe.

Much of a photographer’s skill, whether at depicting events or making portraits, consists in taming the uncertainty of the visual world, through lighting,

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