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Art and Architecture: The Polaroid Years - David Levinthal, Mary-Kay Lombino, William Wegman - An Art Book Series Event

May 15, 2013

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FREE - Berger Forum doors open at 5:30 p.m.

In this event, author and curator Mary-Kay Lombino discusses her fascinating new book, The Polaroid Years: Instant Photography and Experimentation. She is joined, for an in-depth discussion, by renowned artists and photographers David Levinthal and William Wegman whose unique bodies of work demonstrate the incredible influence of Polaroid.

Filled with images from a trove of artists from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol, this is the first volume to explore the Polaroid camera’s indelible influence on the history of photography. From its inception in 1947, the Polaroid system inspired artists to experiment—to dazzling effect—with the cameras’ unique technologies. Edwin Land, the inventor of the first Polaroid instant camera, remarked on his discovery, “Photography will never be the same.” And he was right. This fascinating journey through the Polaroid era documents the evolution of instant photography. Hundreds of color images celebrate the myriad ways Polaroid photographs have been used and ingeniously manipulated by Chuck Close, Walker Evans, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lucas Samaras, William Wegman, and others. The Polaroid Years features essays addressing the unique technology of instant photography and the marketing genius of the Polaroid Corporation. Interviews with artists reveal how Polaroids affected and, in many instances, forever changed the way they captured the world around them.

David Levinthal, Untitled, 1990, from American Beauties series. Large-format Polaroid Polacolor ER Land print, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist © David LevinthalDavid Levinthal, Untitled, 1990, from American Beauties series. Large-format Polaroid Polacolor ER Land print, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist © David Levinthal

Copies of the book are available for purchase and signing at the event after the audience Q&A.

Writing in The New York Times, Charles Hagen said that, "What distinguishes Mr. Levinthal's work is his interest in emotionally charged historical material. But the real force of his images comes not from his choice of subjects but from the way he tells their stories." David Levinthal is the co-author, with Garry Trudeau, of Hitler Moves East, originally published in 1977. Dark Light, a ten year survey exhibition of his work, was organized in 1994 by The Photographers' Gallery in London, and traveled throughout the United Kingdom. In 1997 the International Center of Photography in New York presented the first retrospective David Levinthal, work from 1977 to 1996. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work is included in numerous museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, and The Menil Collection.

Since 2006 Mary-Kay Lombino has served as The Emily Hargroves Fisher '57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College where she oversees the contemporary art and photography collections, exhibitions, and publications. Prior to joining the staff at Vassar she served as Curator of Exhibitions at the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach for six years and Assistant Curator at UCLA Hammer Museum for five years. Her exhibitions include Utopian Mirage: Social Metaphors in Contemporary Photography  (2007); Off the Shelf: New Forms in Contemporary Artists’ Books (2006); Candida Höfer: The Architecture of Absence (2005); UnNaturally (2003), By Hand: Pattern Precision, and Repetition in Contemporary Drawing (2001). She has also organized solo shows for numerous artists including Phil Collins, Ken Price, Euan Macdonald, Alice Könitz, and Marco Maggi. Bob Knox: Non-Fiction Paintings, an exhibition Ms. Lombino co-curated, was voted First Place for the Best Exhibition of an Emerging or Under-known Artist by the International Art Critics Association in 2003. That same year, Ms. Lombino was selected by The Fund for U.S. Artists at International Exhibitions to organize an exhibition of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Mungo Thomson to represent the United States in the Cuenca Bienal, a major international exhibition that took place in Ecuador in Spring 2004. Ms. Lombino was selected as one of ten 2009 fellows for the prestigious Center for Curatorial Leadership program, a six-month fellowship designed to train and support talented curators in realizing their potential for leadership in the field. Also in 2009 she was one of two recipients of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Research Fellowship. She was also one of ten 2005-2006 recipients of the Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship.  

William Wegman. Splitting Image, 2005. Large-format Polaroid print, 24 x 20 inches. Courtesy of Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles © William WegmanWilliam Wegman. Splitting Image, 2005. Large-format Polaroid print, 24 x 20 inches. Courtesy of Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles © William Wegman

William Wegman was born December 2, 1943 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He received a BFA in painting from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 1965 and an MFA from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1967. Wegman's photographs, videotapes, paintings, and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. Recent exhibitions have included touring retrospectives of Wegman’s work in Europe, Japan, and Korea. In 2006-2008, Funney/Strange, a retrospective of Wegman’s paintings, drawings, videos, and photographs, toured the US, appearing at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Wexner Center, and the Smithsonian. His work recently appeared in exhibitions at the Pomona College Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Berkeley Museum as part of Pacific Standard Time, and Bowdoin College in July 2012. Wegman is the author of numerous books for children, including New York Times bestseller Puppies. Working with his cast of Weimaraners, Wegman has created projects for Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Street, where his videos have appeared regularly since 1989. Wegman currently lives in New York and Maine.

In its fifth year the program series An Art Book, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a celebration of the essential importance and beauty of art books. The events showcase book presentations and discussions by world renowned artists, critics, curators, gallerists, historians and writers.