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Time was, photographers sought to represent “the truth”. In the early 1900’s, technology in the form of smaller, handheld cameras and prevailing cultural trends dovetailed to originate the field of photojournalism. Not so straightforward today. Now, technology and current trends lean toward highly interpretive imagery. In their current group show, Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida takes a sweeping international look at Realism to Abstraction: Changing Focus in Contemporary Photography. From intimate, vintage B&W photographs to grand color imagery, this diverse and exciting collection will be on view through May 27th, 2017.
Traditional B&W film photographers like Berenice Abbott in the United States and Henri Cartier-Bresson in Europe were dedicated to capturing the realities of the world around them, albeit with delightfully unconventional viewpoints. Today, photographers like Stephen Wilkes (partially cropped photo in Feature Image, complete image pictured below), Renato D’Agostin and Massimo Listri interpret much more broadly, tracking an entire day in the span of a single photograph, flattening skyscrapers into abstract patterns and transforming expansive architectural interiors into spectacular perspectives.
That’s not to say that photographers today aren’t influenced by the icons who went before them, far from it. It’s not hard to see the classic, clean echoes of early B&W documentary photographers like Arthur Rothstein in the sophisticated spatial relationships of André Lichtenbeg’s vibrant electric imagery. And fanciful, bold images by contemporary B&W photographers like Gilbert Garcin and Renato D’Agostin recall the elegant linear and compositional underpinnings of vintage photographs within their modern viewpoints.
Perhaps just as big as the “changing focus in contemporary photography” from realism to abstraction has been the trend to bigness itself. Sometimes, oversized images suggest a form of abstraction by virtue of scale alone. This is especially true in portraiture, where the subjects can be rendered larger than life. The rich splendor of Kimiko Yoshido’s invented ethnic self-portrait and Joyce Tenneson’s serenely sublime glowing woman possess a graphic impact that engulfs the viewer on multiple levels. For sprawling subjects like contemporary landscape, architecture or natural wildlife, it is more often an original perspective or impressionistic essence that creates an altered conceptual experience. In Realism to Abstraction, Holden Luntz features a rousing selection of intimate photojournalistic prints and grand contemporary images that exemplify compelling photography.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: http://www.holdenluntz.com/exhibitions/realism-abstraction-changing-focus-contemporary-photography
Feature Image: “Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC, 2016” (Detail) from the series Day to Night by Stephen Wilkes (courtesy of the artist and Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach, FL).