Friday, November 20, 2015

Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now, reviews from Mark Steinmetz and Charlotte Cotton

Launched at the end of October, Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now, edited by Quentin Bajac and his team, sets out to give a comprehensive overview of the museums collection post-1960s.

MoMA says this:  Photography at MoMA brings a new critical perspective on the most prominent artists who have worked with the photographic medium over the last half-century. At a moment when photography is undergoing fast-paced changes and artists are seeking to redefine its boundaries in new and exciting ways, Photography at MoMA serves as an excellent resource for understanding this expanded field. The book begins with an in-depth introduction followed by eight chapters of full-color plates, each introduced by a short essay. Nearly 250 artists are featured, including Diane Arbus, John Baldessari, Jan Dibbets, Rineke Dijkstra, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Louise Lawler, Zoe Leonard, Helen Levitt, Sigmar Polke, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeff Wall, Carrie Mae Weems, Hannah Wilke, and Garry Winogrand.

The TIME lightbox, in a two-part series, art photographer Mark Steinmetz and curator Charlotte Cotton review Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now. They offer contrasting views about the Museum’s curatorial choices as the institution moves away from John Szarkowski’s legacy.

In the TIME piece Mark Steinmetz, who comes from the position of looking at the world and extracting from his surroundings images that question and intrigue, asks why... So many of the photographs in the newly released Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now feel like illustrations of ideas. A large number of them interrogate, in one way or another, the medium of photography or the role of mass media representations in society. Fewer might be considered interrogations of the world that we actually live in as it actually looks and fewer still could be considered interrogations of the self. The selection is tilted towards photographs about thoughts, not feelings...
And... In this book, the real enthusiasm of the new curatorial staff seems to be for photo-based art: there are chapters on conceptual art, performance art, staged photography, work drawn from archives, and abstracted, experimental art. Most of the younger artists and the recently collected work are in this vein. The current curators give the impression that they are content to let straight photography rest pretty much with the same set of photographers that Szarkowski chose for his book, “Photography Until Now (1989),” that is to say, with the generation of photographers who are now in their sixties and seventies. They’ve included a few younger photographers who work in an un-manipulated manner, but the ones they’ve chosen come from other continents and work with some sort of easily graspable political agenda. For the most part the curators’ interest in recent straight photography appears to be slight.

You can read Mark Steinmetz' full review HERE and from Charlotte Cotton HERE.

Regina Silveira, Enigma 1, 1981

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