Ah, the artist’s studio! One should question if the artist transforms the studio, or the studio transforms the artist. This was certainly no different in the presentation by the curator, Peter Galassi, which left the viewers to wonder and contemplate.
Thematically assembled in two floors with 150 collected works by artists even the most casual fan would’ve heard of, the exhibition is an experience like none other. We are given the opportunity to take a peek at the masters at work. From Richard Avedon’s take on Dior, to Robert Mapplethorpe’s ever-suggestive self-portraits, to Jeff Wall’s striking Picture for Women, there is much here to appreciate. Many works are familiar, yet there are surprises lurking each angle of the wall. But what does this mean? What correlation could possibly exist between Cindy Sherman and Lee Friedlander? One thing is certain: the artists did not agree on the physicality of the studio as a location. As we acknowledge this as if we are figuring out a puzzle, Galassi leads us to believe that the theme of artist’s studio, for the medium of photography, is more than just a space to position the camera; the studio is a subject matter of its own. It questions photography as a medium, and how it sustains itself as part of its environment. Whether it is the disruption of perception in Jeff Wall’s Picture for Women, or the portrayal of visually documenting performing sculpture in Charles Ray’s Plant Piece I-II, it leaves the viewer with the question in mind. Is the studio entirely artificial or a distortion of reality?