New York

Elger Esser

Sonnabend Gallery

Had Elger Esser deliberately set out to produce two apparently opposite bodies of work, he might well have settled on the landscape photographs for which he is best known and the enlarged shots of vintage seaside postcards in his recent show. The former photographs, large-scale in the manner of much current German photo art (Esser is yet another former student of Bernd and Hilla Becher), are beautiful in interesting ways. Some are striking for the flat featurelessness of the expanses they show, often of water and sand; others describe coastal or riverine spots of no self-evident uniqueness, so that it is hard to tell what prompted their selection. In either case Esser seems to be attempting to unravel the codes of the picturesque, deflating the dramas of perspective and the carefully shaped view. The postcard series, on the other hand, is explicitly bound up with those codes, which are

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