April 17th, 2015
Five Photography Exhibitions to See in New York this April
William Klein + Brooklyn at Howard Greenberg Gallery (through May 2): Simply titled William Klein + Brooklyn, the iconic photographer and filmmaker’s new show at Howard Greenberg Gallery collects nearly 50 photographs taken in the summer of 2013. Commissioned by Sony as part of the corporation’s Global Imaging Ambassadors program—an initiative that unites image-makers around the globe with the aim of storytelling—Klein was asked to explore Brooklyn using a digital camera provided by Sony, a surprising first for the artist, who has preferred film and a wide-angle lens throughout his career. In Klein’s visual interpretation of Brooklyn, the atmosphere is frenzied and confrontational. Presented large scale and unframed, the photographs are mostly displayed in grids, pressed against each other to create one object containing a variety of moments. A quiet shot of the Brooklyn Bridge is sandwiched between a dance performance by children and a street scene of Hasidic men gesturing emphatically to each other in evening light. An extreme close-up of two sunbathers reveals a bright floral swimsuit and a Kate Spade beach bag; right next to it is a photograph of the dilapidated yet still vibrant and bold Coney Island storefronts. Except for some discernible sights, the distinctions between neighborhood and place become secondary; looking at the closely organized grids, the viewer feels all sights and sounds at once, an effect that echoes Klein’s reflections in the accompanying publication by Contrasto: “Brooklyn for me, a Manhattanite, has always been a mystery. This year, it became a photographic discovery.” — Taia Kwinter
The Light in Cuban Eyes at Robert Mann Gallery (through May 23): As the U.S. opens up relations with Cuba, the gallery presents an exhibition devoted to photographs made before and after the country’s “Special Period,” which followed the Soviet Union pullout in the early 1990s. Stark black-and-white documentary photography is complemented by images of untouched landscapes, as in Lissette Solórzano’s epic shots. And there’s ample humor, too, in the posed portraits of Adrián Fernández and René Peña.
Alison Rossiter: Paper Wait at Yossi Milo Gallery (through May 2): In these camera-less photographs, Rossiter uses expired photographic paper that she then augments with liquid developer– but what develops on the film is in fact a visual record of the life of the papers themselves, which date from the 1890s to the 1960s.
Fatal Attraction: Piotr Uklanski Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through August 16): Polish artist Piotr Uklanski was given free rein among the Met’s archives as well in its grandiose entry, and true to form he brings a sense of provocation to the staid institution. For the “Selects” portion of the exhibition, he chose a compendium of objects from the museum’s vast holdings that illuminate his own practice, from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Laurie Simmons to ancient Egyptian relics. His selections complement his own solo show of photographs, bright and glossy imitations of Kodak’s Joy of Photography as well as an excerpt from his infamous series The Nazis (1998), a grid surveying Nazi pop culture. In the main entry to the museum, a diptych of two large-scale banners hang from the ceiling. In the second one, a mass of 3,000 soldiers cloaked in red coalesce to form the word “solidarity” in Polish, calling on the name of the first trade union in a Warsaw Pact country that escaped Communist Party control. Uklanski brings the personal as well as the political into inspiring play.
Barbara Kasten: Set Motion at Bortolami Gallery (through May 30): Kasten’s first solo show with the gallery coincides with the artist’s survey exhibition at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. The exhibition centers on two series of photo-based work: Kasten’s Amalgams–gelatin-silver prints created without a camera where the artist placed objects on photographic paper, then magnified the results–were made in the 1970s. Her new series, Transpositions, presents photographs made with colored sheets of Plexiglas to create sculptural, geometric shapes, inspired by Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France.