Recognized today as one of the most influential figures in modern photography, the Hungarian artist, designer and educator, György Kepes (1906-2001) was one of the founding members of the New Bauhaus in Chicago. A longtime assistant and protégé of Moholy-Nagy in the years preceding the Second World War, Kepes had emigrated to the United States at his mentor’s invitation to oversee the photography program at the newly established academy. At the core of Kepes’ teaching activity at the New Bauhaus stood the exploration of the possibilities of form and image as defined by light. Similarly, in his own photographic practice Kepes often employed the use of light projections, solarization, reverse printing and photograms. The Two Faces of Juliet (c. 1937-1939) was realized with two superimposed photograms of the artist’s wife, further embellished with layers of multi-colored gouache. The finished unique object elicits parallels to the 18th century practice of silhouette drawing, a predecessor to the fully-automated photographic portrait, which Kepes skillfully translates into the modern era by exposing his subject directly onto the photographic substrate and pointing towards the inner workings of the mind of his Janus-faced muse.
While Man Ray acknowledged the revolutionary impact of Duchamp’s concept of the “readymade” he often sought to expand on its principles. In Lampshade (1920), the rendition of a detached and otherwise banal lampshade, unwinding from its original, cylindrical form into an elegant, descending spiral becomes a meditation on the ephemeral nature of the physical world. Sometimes combining objects or employing evocative titles to create a sense of surrealist poetic expression, Man Ray preferred to alter the design of a manufactured object, as he has eloquently done in this instance.
Lampshade was one of the artist’s earliest sculptural works to be exhibited, first shown on April 30, 1920 at the inaugural exhibition of the Société Anonyme in New York, alongside works by Constantin Brâncuși, Marcel Duchamp and several other landmark figures. The original Lampshade was a hanging spiral of paper, which Man Ray recalls in his 1963 memoir Self-Portrait, was destroyed by a janitor the night before the exhibition, forcing the artist to quickly fashion a new piece for the show. Man Ray’s experience as part of the Société Anonyme came at a critical point in his early career, when he had not yet found financial stability. Employed by co-founder Katherine Dreier to take publicity photographs of the artworks, this functional use of photography—to record his own artworks and those of leading artists—was Man Ray’s primary use of the medium at this time. Reproduced in Francis Picabia’s surrealist journal 391 the same year, it was this very work that first exposed Man Ray’s work to a larger audience and gave the artist confidence to fully explore the potential of photography.
Following the release of her highly-anticipated new monograph, Liberty Theater, the gallery is pleased to present a dynamic installation of twenty vintage prints by Rosalind Fox Solomon spanning several decades across her spirited career. New multimedia work by Mishka Henner will be shown for the first time, alongside images from Todd Hido’s newest publication and eponymous concurrent gallery exhibition, Bright Black World.
Further highlights of the exhibition will include a rare platinum print by Paul Strand, Boy, Tenancingo de Degollado, Mexico (1933), several FSA-era works by Dorothea Lange including her most iconic photograph, Migrant Mother (1936), and the original oversized exhibition print by David Seymour, Tereska, Poland (1948) from the Smithsonian’s landmark 1969 exhibition, The Concerned Photographer. Vintage prints by Dora Maar, Constantin Brâncuși, Germaine Krull, Erwin Blumenfeld and Louis Faurer will also be featured, alongside exceptional works by Keith A. Smith, Trine Søndergaard, Penelope Umbrico and Marjan Teeuwen that will be shown for the first time at Paris Photo.