Matthew Pillsbury (born in Neuilly, France, 1973) received his BA in fine art from Yale University in 1995 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2004. His work has been exhibited internationally and is widely held in private and museum collections, including the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, Museum of Modern Art, and Guggenheim Museum, all in New York; Musée du Louvre, Paris; and Tate Modern, London. In 2007, Pillsbury won the prestigious Prix HSBC pour la Photographie. His work is represented by Bonni Benrubi, New York; Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta; and Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver.
City Stages offers a paean to the craft and visionary potential of large-format, black and-white photography, as well as to the vibrancy of the cultural landscape at a transitional moment—a moment in which our very relationship to that landscape is increasingly mediated by omnipresent screens.
Over the past decade, Matthew Pillsbury has built several extensive bodies of work—Screen Lives, Hours, and City Stages—that deal with different facets of contemporary metropolitan life and the passage of time. Working with black-and-white, 8-by-10 film and long exposures, Pillsbury captures a range of psychologically charged experiences in the urban environment, from isolation—tuned into the omnipresent screens of our tablets, laptops, televisions, and phones—to crowded museums, parades, cathedrals, and even protests.
Working primarily in New York but with forays to Paris, London, Venice, and other sites, the precise and concrete rendering of cityscapes, iconic landmarks, and interior spaces in his images provides a stage-like setting for the performance of human activity. Thanks to the extended exposures—some as long as an hour—the actions of both individuals and crowds are blurred and transformed into pure gesture and energy.
As writer Karl E. Johnson comments on the work, “For Pillsbury, the act of seeing appears to double as a performance, if no more than the performance of life enacted in various spaces and timeframes.” This exhibition gathers selections from all three bodies of work for the first time, and spans ten years of the artist’s output.
City Stages is produced in collaboration with Bonni Benrubi Gallery.
The accompanying publication, City Stages, was published by Aperture in 2013.
This project was made possible, in part, with generous support from Thomas Berger, Peter Brunell, S.B. Cooper and R.L. Besson, James and Lucy Danziger, Deborah Goodman Davis, Elaine Goldman and John Benis, Carles Guillot, Michael Hoeh, Deborah and Brian Howes, William M. and Elizabeth A. Kahane, Cathy M. Kaplan, Emily-Jane Kirwan, Andrew E. Lewin, Andy Marcus, Peter Marino, Julie and David Meneret, Nancy and Tom O’Neil, in memory of Bonni Benrubi, Philip Pillsbury, Jr., Mara and Ricky Sandler, Marilyn and Warren Silverberg, Anne Stark and Kurt Locher, Robert and Joan Stein, Jane and David Walentas, Jane’s Carousel, and Alan and Louise Weil.
All images Courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York