July 6, 2006 - Aug. 17, 2006

William Christenberry Photographs: 1961–2005

At Aperture Gallery

Since the early 1960s, William Christenberry has plumbed the regional identity of the American South, focusing his attention on his hometown, Hale County, Alabama. Widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of color photography, Christenberry’s work draws inspiration from Walker Evans, while paralleling the work of international practitioners such as Bernd and Hilla Becher. Ranging from his earliest Brownie photographs to his later work with a large-format camera, William Christenberry Photographs, 1961–2005 is a survey of the artist’s poetic documentation of the southern vernacular landscape and architecture that surrounded him growing up. The exhibition, which comprises fifty vintage photographic works and one sculpture—coupling never-before-seen photographs with images that are now iconic—reveals how the history, the very story of place, is at the heart of Christenberry’s project. While the focus of his work is the American South, it touches on universal themes relating to family, culture, nature, spirituality, memory, and aging. Christenberry photographs real things in the real world—ramshackle buildings, weathered commercial signs, lonely back roads, rusted-out cars, white-washed churches, decorated graves. Dutifully returning to photograph the same locations annually—the green barn, the palmist building, the Bar-B-Q Inn, among others—he fulfills a personal ritual and documents the physical changes wrought by the passing of a year. Straddling the past and present, Christenberry’s art evokes the form and power of the passage of time.

The exhibitions at Aperture and the Smithsonian are accompanied by a stunning catalog entitled William Christenberry, published by Aperture in conjunction with the Smithsonian American Art Museum this month. The book is a comprehensive survey, presenting all aspects of the artist’s oeuvre as he intends it to be viewed and considered. More than half the work is previously unpublished. The book showcases not only the artist’s photographs, for which he is best known, but also his sculpture, drawing, painting, and found object assemblage.


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Location Details:

Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Touring venues:

Birmingham Museum of Art
October 1 – December 24, 2006

Mobile Museum of Art
Mobile, Alabama
January 12 – March 25, 2007

Crystal Bridges
Bentonville, Arkansas
June 25– August 18, 2007

Gibbes Museum of Art
Charleston, South Carolina
December 21, 2007 – March 16, 2008

University of Michigan Museum of Art
Ann Arbor
April 4 – June 1, 2008

Massachusetts College of Art
October 13 – December 6, 2008

Columbus Museum of Art
Columbus, Ohio
January 16 – May 10, 2009

Morris Museum of Art
Augusta, Georgia
September 10 – November 5, 2009

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Memphis, Tennessee
November 26, 2009 – January 21, 2010

Reynolda House Museum of American Art
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
February 11 – June 24, 2010