Not Exactly Photographs

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition NOT EXACTLY PHOTOGRAPHS from March 6 to April 26, 2003.

NOT EXACTLY PHOTOGRAPHS examines twenty-nine works of twentieth-century art that are not photographs per se, but depend on elements of photographic description for their meaning.  The exhibition is comprised of one work each by John Baldessari, Hans Bellmer, Bruce Conner, Vija Celmins, Joseph Cornell, Jay de Feo, Marcel Duchamp, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Gilbert & George, Robert Gober, Hannah Hoch, Georges Hugnet, Jess, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Anselm Kiefer, Franz Kline, Sol LeWitt, Christian Marclay, Brice Marden, On Kawara, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Gerhard Richter, Karin Sander, Kurt Schwitters, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Steve Wolfe.

Several of these works are connected to photography only by the thinnest of threads, yet a single strand is sometimes enough to substantially affect a picture’s meaning.  Schwitters, Hoch, and Conner, for example, used fragments of actual photographs within their collage works to subvert linear perspective and to create new modes of meaning through the surreal combination of seemingly random elements. Johns, Kiefer, and Twombly incorporated photographs within their drawings and paintings to link the works to the “real world” in a way that could not be achieved purely by the hand.

Duchamp proposed another highly influential strategy; that a “found” object or photograph can be transformed by nothing more than a calculated shift of context.  This method has been adopted and modified by Marclay, On Kawara, and Gilbert & George who, utilizing un-altered record covers or postcards, have absorbed entire photographic objects in the service of their art.  Both Warhol and Richter understood that photographic description itself could be ripe for dissection, and approached photography as original source and primary subject.

While making no attempt to be comprehensive, the twenty-nine exemplary works in NOT EXACTLY PHOTOGRAPHS explore a key aspect of photography’s peculiar and singular conduit to reality.

September 13, 1959, 1959