Saturday, April 4, 2015

In the Studio: Photographs at the Gagosian Gallery / REVISION

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?


  1. Hello Joel--

    As always, a pleasure to hear your analysis. Here are some suggestions for your re-write. I think your first paragraph pre-supposes that the works are exploring the concept of the artist's studio. However, these works were simply brought together because they were all shot in a studio. They are not questioning or provoking us to contemplate transformations in regards to the studio. It is only after we see these works together, curated under the guise of "the studio" that we examine them within this context. I always find it important to consider the works in their own right before letting the curation or overarching concept cloud our judgement.

    The phrase "even child would've heard" presupposes a lot of cultural capital. Not many children care or know about famous photographers (although you and I may have been the odd ones out). You could instead simply say that the photographers are ubiquitous or august. The phrase taking a peek is also too loaded. We aren't taking a peek in this show. We are allowed to contemplate and take our time with the works. Your thesis of the review is "As we subconsciously acknowledge this as if we are figuring out a puzzle, Galassi leads us to believe that the theme of artist’s studio, for the context for photography, is beyond a space given for the camera to be positioned; it is a subject matter of its own," and I think you could even lead with that statement then unpack it. Your last few sentences could be rewritten as: "The show leaves the viewer questioning: is the studio entirely artificial or a distortion of reality?" I hope my suggestions help with your re-write!

  2. Joel,
    Wonderfully charismatic, as usual. No surprise at all! I would say for your rewrite, I would suggest maybe trying to shorten your opening, and expanding more on the question you open with about the relationship between studio and the artist. It might be nice to go into one particular work as an example of analyzing this relationship, like maybe the Jeff Wall, since it was the center photograph in the exhibition. It might be interesting to question why this was the most central piece in the show, it might help you to answer what you think the curator thinks about this relationship between photographer and studio. The sentence
    "there is much here that some of us only seen in the photo books we have on our coffee table. " felt a bit awkward for me, I might consider reworking that sentence.
    Otherwise, it was an entertaining and thought provoking review, i might just try and focus on trying to answer the questions you pose within it and utilize the works to try and come to an answer you might think the curator is trying to show their audience. Good job!