This James Welling limited-edition photograph, FDB9, 2009–12, is from his series Fluid Dynamics. The image will be featured in James Welling: Monograph (Aperture, Spring 2013).
As a student Welling was introduced to American Color-Field painting, which became a source of inspiration for his abstract work. Between 1986 and 2006, Welling worked on a series titled Degradés, in which he exposed different parts of photographic paper to different color filtrations using a color enlarger. This series was a precursor to Fluid Dynamics, for which Welling made photograms of water on chromogenic paper, scanned the images, and altered the colors with Adobe Photoshop. Both bodies of work are evidence of his concern with photography’s materiality—especially in the face of technological change—and with the medium’s relationship to painting and sculpture.
Although Welling’s practice has changed over the decades, he has continued to find new ways to apply materials to a photographic surface. As he has said, “I’m interested in finding new ways of applying materials to a surface. Photography is just a different way of applying material and some of my works draw out this process.”
James Welling (born in Hartford, Conn., 1951) is a professor in the UCLA Department of Art, where he has taught for over fifteen years. Welling has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. His retrospective exhibition James Welling: Photographs 1974–1999 originated at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. In 1999 he received the DG Bank-Forder Prize in Photography from the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany. Solo exhibition venues include Regen Projects, Los Angeles; David Zwirner Gallery, New York; Maureen Paley, London; Galerie Nelson-Freeman, Paris; Wako Works of Art, Tokyo; Donald Young Gallery, Chicago; and Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna.