270812: Albertina Joel Sternfeld – Colour photography since 1970

Albertina Joel Sternfeld – Colour photography since 1970 27.06.12 - 07.10.12 Colour and concept By Manisha Jothady Walker Evans once defined colour photography as "vulgar", and even in 1980, Roland Barthes described it as "unnecessary maquillage"" that hides the true traces of a photographic picture. Colour as a photographic stylistic device was banned for a long time in the domains of promotional and amateur photography. Then in the 70's, colour photography was finally acknowledged in the USA as a form of art. This aesthetic emancipation process was set in motion by those photographers who delighted in experimenting, who wanted to discover how the American way of life was mirrored in photographs of people, landscapes and cities. Besides William Eggleston, it was the five years younger Joel Sternfeld, amongst others, who advanced to become an important representative of the so-called New Colour Photography. Eleven of his series, created between the early 70's and 2007, have been exhibited for approximately one year throughout Europe. Following Essen, Amsterdam and Berlin, they have now arrived at the Albertina. The focal point is the, thus far not exhibited, early work of the artist with the series “Nags Head”, “Happy Anniversary Sweetie Face!” and “Rush Hour”. While the "decisive moment" of Cartier-Bresson's and Eggleston's gaudy colourfulness shine through here as examples, Sternfeld developed his own autonomous picture language later on with “American Prospect” (1979-1983). One can hardly believe that a photograph - such as that of the fire fighter in orange-coloured protection gear who is looking at orange-coloured pumpkins completely calmly whilst in the background of the picture, a house is burning – is not the result of having been staged. Sternfeld's interest does not only lie in such curious events, which are always waiting around the corner in life. In the series such as "Stranger Passing" (as of 1987), he focuses on socio-typological topics. In "Walking The High Line" (2000-2001) and "Oxbow Archive" (2005-2007), he targets the relationship between nature and culture. A conceptual approach to documentary photography is revealed in the series "On This Site" (1993-96). It is only through the accompanying text that one learns what atrocities have been carried out in the uninhabited sites."Sweet Earth" (2006) also indicates the interconnection of picture and text, a series about alternative communities. The genial play with colour, as well as the absurdities in everyday life, which is as defining for the early work as for his Opus Magnum "American Prospect", has given way here to a politically motivated, aesthetically somewhat brittle concept. Unfortunately. Albertina 1010 Vienna, Albertinaplatz 1 Tel: +43 1 534 83 -0 Fax: +43 1 533 76 97 E-mail: info@albertina.at http://www.albertina.at

1010 Wien, Albertinaplatz 1
Tel: +43 1 534 83 -0, Fax: +43 1 533 76 97
Email: info@albertina.at
Öffnungszeiten: Tägl. 10-18h, Mi 10-21 h

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