Light Works - The Art of Photograms
Berenice Abbott » Werner Bischof » Erwin Blumenfeld » Richard Caldicott » Tom Fels » Peter Keetman » György Kepes » Alexander Khlebnikov » William Klein » Hans Kupelwieser » Man Ray » Elt Mesens » László Moholy-Nagy » Floris Neusüss » Christian Schad » André Villers »
Exhibition: – 13 Feb 2016
49 Dorset Street
W1U 7NF London
Mon-Fri 10-18 . Sat 11-17
LIGHT WORKS The Art of the Photogram
12 – 15 November 2015 | Paris Photo, Grand Palais, France
27 November 2015 – 30 January, 2016 | ATLAS Gallery, London, UK
LIGHT WORKS: The Art of the Photogram brings together a diverse selection of unique work from artists from the first half of the 20th century to the present day, united by their use of the photogram for creative purposes. Photograms are a camera-less technique for image making, and produce a 1:1 representation of the objects laid upon a light sensitive material. The resulting image is a negative shadow that varies in tone dependent on the transparency of the objects placed on the light sensitive paper to make the photogram. Unlike photographs, photograms do not provide a sense of time or space, they abstract images and objects from their original context, suspend a traditional reading of the image, and retain an air of the mysterious.
LIGHT WORKS will consist of nearly 40 works, including many that are well-known; such as Berenice Abbott’s (1898- 1991, American) avant-garde photograms of wave patterns made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the 1950s, and images by contemporaries Man Ray (1890-1976, American), Christian Schad (1894-1982, German) and László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946, Hungarian), who experimented with the medium independently in the 1920s. Schad had begun to create his ‘Schadographs’ by capturing litter and detritus from the streets of Zurich in 1918-19. It is thought that Tristan Tzara, the leader of the Dada movement in Paris saw Schad’s work and showed it to Man Ray who began to make his own ‘Rayographs’. Continuing the potential chain of influence, in 1930 Moholy-Nagy hired György Kepes (1906-2001, Hungarian) as his assistant in his Berlin studio. Kepes, who was later to work at MIT also, experimented further with the genre by combining techniques such as cliché-verre and decalcomania, yielding unpredictable patterns. The results of these experiments by Kepes are included in this exhibition.
Continuing the line of progression, work by Floris Neusüss (b. 1937, German) an influential artist, writer and teacher on camera-less photography, will be displayed alongside that of László Moholy-Nagy for the first time since the historic exhibition at Europa Centrum, Berlin in 1966. Neusüss, an expert on Moholy-Nagy (and co-author of the definitive Catalogue Raisonné on his work) acknowledges the influence of both Moholy and Man Ray on his work. Neusüss has been Professor in Experimental Photography at the University of Kassel since 1971, bringing renewed ambition to the photogram process. His piece Gewitterbild (Thunderstorm) was created by leaving photographic paper under trees and plants in the night and waiting patiently for the climatic moment when lightening struck, thus exposing the paper and leaving behind a ghostly record of the event.
LIGHT WORKS will also bring together lesser-known experiments with photograms by Werner Bischof (1916-1954, Swiss), William Klein (b. 1928, American) and a recently discovered and unique photogram by Erwin Blumenfeld, known for his innovative and experimental fashion photography.
The exhibition will showcase the work of three contemporary artists, Hans Kupelwieser (b. 1948, Austrian) Tom Fels (b.1946, American) and Richard Caldicott (b. 1962, British). Fels, a curator and a writer specialising in photographic history and early photographic processes, creates large-format deep blue cyanotypes of a singular tree in his back garden. This work is from his ‘Arbor’ series, exhibited in Europe for the first time. In contrast to this, Caldicott painstakingly creates custom ‘negatives’ cutting and splicing small geometric shapes from pieces of colourful card. These are then exposed onto photographic paper and the two abstract works are presented together. Kupelwieser’s ‘Noodle Works’ are 3 dimensional, inhabiting the border between the traditional photogram and sculpture. Collectively, work by these three contemporary artists illustrates the chain of influence of the photogram in art and the enduring legacy of the medium.