new-york

Matthew Benedict, Baker and Chimney Sweep, 2001/2010, sepia-toned black-and-white photograph, 14 x 11".

Matthew Benedict

Alexander and Bonin

Matthew Benedict, Baker and Chimney Sweep, 2001/2010, sepia-toned black-and-white photograph, 14 x 11".

The works presented in Matthew Benedict’s “Dramatis Personae” are photographs made as studies for paintings—but they are striking nonetheless. Portraying archetypes from unfamiliar parables and allegories—the cabin boy, the sea god, the widow, the sideshow freak—the sepia-toned images distinctly resemble daguerreotypes: Most of the figures pose in a manner that suggests stillness (rather than frozen movement), and the prints have odd unfocused areas and various flecks and scratches. Some of these flaws are not part of a photographic plate or film but appear on the walls and floor of the studio in which the images were taken—a trompe l’oeil effect that echoes other kinds of illusions employed here, some trickier than others. Befitting the works’ original status as preparatory studies, the models’ costumes are obviously costumes: Neptune’s beard looks like a mop

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