Fraenkel Gallery will mark its twenty-fifth year this fall with a major book and exhibition, THE EYE CLUB. Opening September 4th, THE EYE CLUB will be on view through November 29th, 2003. The exhibition is accompanied by a 232 page hard-cover book with an introduction by Jeffrey Fraenkel. Printed with exceptional fidelity by the craftsmen at Trifolio (Verona, Italy), it will be available for $65 and distributed through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. in September. Comprised of nearly one hundred photographs, THE EYE CLUB presents surprising work by the medium’s most influential artists, woven among anonymous images and others by photographers who are virtually unknown.
“The Eye Club,” unofficially founded around 1975, was the nickname given to the loose conglomeration of pioneering individuals who found themselves among the first new collectors of photography. Operating purely on instinct and the love of seeing, these few dozen people (including Sam Wagstaff, Andre Jammes, and other now-legendary collectors) shared a distaste for established pantheons and veered instead toward the lesser-known, the anonymous, the outré, or any photograph emanating sparks of electricity. Photography was their perfect vehicle, and they were startled to find themselves in so much uncharted territory.
The little-known images in THE EYE CLUB have been assembled in a related spirit of adventure. An elastic web of connections replaces chronological order. Many of the pictures, but by no means all, are by artists who have been central to the gallery’s history, but when images by well-known photographers appear they are rarely among their creator’s most celebrated works. The identity of several of the picture-makers remains unknown, or virtually so. Photography persists as an unruly medium, and this book and exhibition are comprised of an unruly group of photographs, brought together in the open-eyed spirit of The Eye Club to mark the gallery’s twenty-fifth year.