Friday, October 7, 2011

Elger Esser at Sonnabend Gallery

Elger Esser’s exhibit, "Et nous avons des nuits plus belles que vos jours,” (translates into And we have some nights more beautiful than your days) is a subtle, yet intriguing array of photographs and heliogravures that are not necessarily what they might seem.

Prints in color and grayscale showcase a variety of images taken in Giverny, France, at the gardens of the Fondation Claude Monet, the site known for his famous water lily paintings. While they appear as escapades in capturing dusk and dawn lighting, in reality all were shot at night. Playing with high contrasts and reflections, the images seem otherworldly and mystical. As the title of the show suggests, the beauty captured in these long exposure prints rivals the beauty of the gardens during the daylight.

Two particular prints deserve mention. Giverny VII Frankreich and Metz I Frankreich. Both of them color prints, the former radiates a golden aura, filled with the soft black shapes of the surrounding greenery. Striking because of its color and forms, the composition is enhanced by actually being a pond’s reflection; water lilies float in and around the tops of trees like that of flying saucers. The latter image engulfs you in the grandeur of the Metz Cathedral, seen from the water. Caught in a nostalgic sepia-esque haze, the Cathedral rises up through the center of the composition like a sacra conversazione’s Madonna, flanked on each side by riverbanks, instead of saints.

This show is truly an ephemeral journey of beauty and light.


  1. I really enjoyed your assessment of this exhibition. I had forgotten about this particular show and I felt that you adequately described some of the pieces in it. My only critique of your writing sample is that after you described the pieces in the show I felt that I wanted more description of the show as a whole, as well as a better conclusion to the entire exhibition. Your last line, however was really well written and did sum up the show well. Maybe you could expand on that last thought? Being able to write a longer article would better suit describing specific pieces as well as summing up an entire show. So maybe for your revision you could write about one piece and then describe that in the context of the entire show? Just a thought! Great job!

  2. Good description of the show. There are a couple sections that I feel could be rewritten to flow smoother. The first being the sentence "While they appear as escapades in capturing dusk and dawn lighting, in reality all were shot at night." the phrase "in reality" seems to cause me to stumble. Maybe you could say "in truth". And the second suggestion really is in agreement with Erin's point about focusing on the specific pieces. By doing this in such a short review it may cause the reader to sense that you are negating the rest of the works in the show (which I don't think was your intention). Maybe by turning the focus onto the show as a whole entity would be less conclusive about the exhibition. Otherwise great review.

  3. Thanks for the great comments! I definitely see what the two of you are talking about!