Sam Taylor-Wood

Centre National de la Photographie

Sam Taylor-Wood makes big photographs. I like photographs that are small, made to be viewed in books or, ideally, held in one’s hands, destined to be turned, caressed, and scrutinized up close. In such experiences lies something like the essence of photography, for me. And thus I do not like Sam Taylor-Wood’s photographs.

Of course, Taylor-Wood’s images were never intended to be exceedingly photographic. They flirt with cinema (the panoramic horizontal expanse, “sound tracks,” and temporal dilation of the “Five Revolutionary Seconds” series, 1995–98). They dally with theater (the play with mise-en-scène and costume, not to mention the very title of the “Soliloquy” series, 1998–99). They have much too much truck with painting (the monumental scale, the precious wooden frames, the pretentious pastiches of Velázquez or da Vinci in the YBA icon Wrecked, 1996). A generation ago, artists like

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