new-york

John Stezaker

Friedrich Petzel Gallery

John Stezaker’s methodology—take a found photograph, do something to it, do something else to it—is an audaciously simple one, but it works. Stezaker, a British veteran of first-wave Conceptual art and the New Image group, has been enjoying something of a comeback, and his recent first exhibition at Friedrich Petzel made the revival seem entirely explicable, even overdue. Stezaker is a master of selection and presentation; his vision emerges all the stronger when he keeps evidence of his own hand to a minimum. That Matthew Higgs helped design the show’s crisp installation makes perfect sense, since both artists have a clear-eyed aesthetic.

Of Stezaker’s recent works, the most striking—and the best known in New York, following their inclusion in “Unmonumental” at the New Museum—are his “Film Portrait” collages, which he began in the 1980s. In each of these eerie cut-ups of vintage movie-actor

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