In the 1970s, from his base in Los Angeles, artist Robert Cumming (born 1943) made functional-looking but ultimately useless constructions, created primarily to be photographed with his 8 x 10 camera. Playing with props, proportions, unusual angles, light and mirrors, Cumming invited viewers to look in—and then to look again, second-guessing what they saw. The Difficulties of Nonsense is the first comprehensive publication to survey Cumming’s significant series of conceptual black-and-white and color photographs from the 1970s, now a touchstone for contemporary artists, and focus on the artist’s fascination with illusion and trickery. With an essay by Sarah Bay Gachot and an interview by David Campany, this monograph pays homage to a time when Cumming, and many in the photographic community, worked to playfully push the boundaries of photography and narrative.
Number of pages: 184
Number of images: 135
Publication date: 2016-05-24
Measurements: 10.5 x 9 x 0.9 inches
Robert Cumming is best-known for his conceptual photography of sculptures and drawings which play with the mechanics of photographic practice. He was originally a painting student in the ’60s, and received a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967. He moved primarily into sculpture and three-dimensional art, and soon was creating sculptures for the camera. His work is represented in the permanent collections of many major art museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Sarah Bay Gachot is an independent curator, writer, and artist living in Venice, California.
David Campany is one of the best-known and most accessible writers on photography. His books include A Handful of Dust (2015), The Open Road (Aperture, 2014), Walker Evans: The Magazine Work (2013), Jeff Wall: Picture for Women (2011), Photography and Cinema (2008), and Art and Photography (2003). His essays have appeared in numerous books and he contributes regularly to Aperture, Frieze, Photoworks, and Oxford Art Journal.