chicago

John Opera, Woman in Window, 2012, cyanotype on stretched linen, 24 x 20".

John Opera

ANDREW RAFACZ

John Opera, Woman in Window, 2012, cyanotype on stretched linen, 24 x 20".

Whether as an architectural blueprint or a photogram, the cyanotype is infinitely alluring. Articulated by or within a field of deep Persian blue, images produced by this rudimentary two-chemical photographic process can be more graphically beguiling than even the most richly toned silver gelatin print. John Opera knows this. “People, Places, and Things,” his exhibition of eleven modestly sized works (all 2012), dispassionately indexed six seemingly unremarkable image types—bottles, ropes, chains, hands, fossils, and the portrait of a young woman. Yet the blue splendor saturating the stretched linen support of each piece makes these works fascinating. Opera’s no-frills taxonomic aesthetic calls to mind cyanotype’s mid-nineteenth-century beginnings: British botanist Anna Atkins’s pioneering use of the process to record impressions of algae and seaweed. On first glance “People,

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 2012 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.