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Art Wall on Third Exhibition Series - More than a Passing Glance - Color Photographs by Jan Staller
More than a Passing Glance
Art Wall on Third Exhibition
The Art Collection, 3rd floor
The Art and Picture Collections at Mid-Manhattan Library present More than a Passing Glance an exhibition of large scale color photographs by well-known photographer Jan Staller. At once recognizable and yet abstract the striking images made during 2010 – 2011 depict construction sites, scrap metal yards, parking lots, boat yards and other places ordinarily visited for their intended function and assumed not to offer much visual delight, except when they appear in Staller’s photographs. These locations and the raw materials used to construct the modern world provide Staller with a strong source of inspiration to mine his intense imagery. For the past thirty years, Staller has focused his lens on the human altered landscape, ranging from the last vestiges of the industrial age and urban locations to construction projects and agricultural sites. Art Wall on Third exhibition series is curated by Arezoo Moseni.
Sean Corcoran, the Curator of Prints and Photographs at The Museum of the City of New York, joins Jan Staller for An Artist Dialogue, free and open to public, on Sat. June 2 at 2:30 p.m. on the 6th Floor.
With an eye enlightened by the drawing, sculpture and painting he has seen in the past 30 years, Jan Staller sees his subjects as ready-made art. ‘It looks like a painting” is the cliché often uttered about abstract photographs which, might for example simply record peeling paint, rusted metal or weathered barn sides. Staller’s work references other art forms with far more nuance than simple abstraction. While his work can be seen as factually descriptive, his photographs evince a transformative reading.
White is used for ambiguous effect in his imagery. A Coca Cola tractor-trailer, and its familiar logos obliterated with rolled on white paint sits in the white atmosphere of a snowy day. At first glance, the white patches on the trailer appear to be jagged holes in the trailer wall through which the sky appears, but the spray-painted “For Sale…” sign quickly proves the opacity of the structure.
In another image, chicken wire fencing folded over upon itself was photographed against the white sky. The two layers of wire render as a silver grey three-dimensional cubic illusion. A photograph made of wire gabions offers a negative version of the chicken wire drawing; cages made of white vinyl coated wire are transformed into a delicate, white tracery by the black felt upon which they sit.
One work in silver tones strongly relates to drawings. Crushed Squirrel Cage Fan drawing has a confounding optical illusion found in a work by M. C. Escher.
Jan Staller’s photography is driven by curiosity and close observation. In 1988 he commented, “We travel from one place to the next noting only rather superficial details…specific areas are generally perceived by what functions they serve.” He offered his working mode in contrast, “to visit nearby places as a traveler far from home.” When given more than a passing glance, any place, no matter how prosaic or ugly, can possibly inspire a Staller photograph.