Tuesday, May 27, 2014

why drive 4 hours to see art

Under The Surface, Surrealist Photography was an "AHA" moment for me.  Traveling straight to my heart and prying lose an internal gasp of understanding.

Like an orphan finally finding her birth parents after years of disappointing searches or P.D. Eastman's hatch-ling returning to the nest after a litany of "Are you my mother?"

For me, jaded by most photography in this age where everyone is a photographer, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art's exhibit stopped me in my tracks and propelled me straight into admiration.

The sixty photographs, mainly from the first half of the 1900's, ranged from the happy accident of Frederick Sommer's double exposure portrait of Max Ernst to the amazing Spell of the Shadow by Clarence John Laughlin.  Along with the expected May Ray rayograms and solarization experiments the show expanded my understanding of surrealism through the inclusion of works by Eugene Atget and Brassai, photographers not generally thought of as surrealists, but included because of their enigmatic presence their "chance capturing on film of some marvelous coincidence" (Andrea Rosen Curatorial Assistant)
Frederick Sommer  Max Ernst 1946

Clarence John Laughlin  The Spell of the Shadow  1953

While I loved it all my favorites where Lee Millers Exploding Hand (what's not to love!) and Dream 28 by Grete Stern.  Stern's photographs accompanied a regular column in an Argentinian women's magazine called "Psychoanalysis Will Help You".  The column analyzed readers dreams in the latest Freudian style.

Lee Miller  Exploding Hand  1930

Grete Stern  Dream 28 1951

Standing in the presence of these images, experiencing the physicality of them - their scale, the subtle gradation of tones, the thickness of the paper - all under the beautiful gallery lighting - cannot be duplicated on the computer screen or even in a book. This is why I drive 4 hours to see art.

No comments:

Post a Comment