Visible Intersections & the Art World in 2017 in Art Basel Magazine

Visible Intersections & the Art World in 2017

by Diana McClure

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Despite the retrograde politics of this past year, artists, culture workers and collectors around the globe have continued to push back against the ease of falling into a dystopic worldview. In a year that included Documenta, the Venice Biennale, and Skulptur Projekte Münster,  less visible highlights, including interventions across both geographic and philosophical borders, stood out and are featured here.

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THE INFAMOUS ROSE HARTMAN AT EDELMAN ARTS

The Infamous Rose Hartman at Edelman Arts

by Diana McClure

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A limited edition series of photographs by Rose Hartman on view at Edelman Arts in the exhibition titled, The Infamous Rose Hartman, plays with ideas of both pleasure and infamy in a historical context. A certain joie de vivre, or joy for living, is immediately evident in the work, most of which was shot amidst the decadent landscape of New York City’s nightlife and art world culture of the late 1970s and 1980s.

If viewers are at all nostalgic for the legendary Studio 54 nightclub or the de rigueur Marlborough Gallery, they will absolutely feel the embodiment of that effervescence in Hartman’s images. It is clear that she was there, front and center, body and soul. 

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Alvin Baltrop: At the Hudson River Piers at Galerie Buchholz

Alvin Baltrop: At the Hudson River Piers at Galerie Buchholz

by Diana McClure

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The photographs in Alvin Baltrop: At the Hudson River Piers were taken in a pre-AIDS era, roughly 1975-1986, and feature gay men amidst the crumbling ruins of New York City’s Hudson River piers. On view at Galerie Buchholz through August 19, Baltrop’s images invoke a mixture of Robert Mapplethorpe’s homoeroticism, architectural photography, and images of classical sculpture.

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Irving Penn 1950 at Pace MacGill

Irving Penn 1950 at Pace MacGill

by Diana McClure

Photo: Diana McClure

Photo: Diana McClure

Elegance refined and democratically applied could define the work of legendary photographer, Irving Penn. Eight years after his passing at age 92 in New York, 2017 marks the centennial of Penn’s birth. The occasion is being honored with a retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and smaller gallery exhibitions across New York City, including Pace MacGill’s, Irving Penn 1950.

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Ima Mfon: Nigerian Identitites / Donna Ruff: The Migrant Series at Rick Wester Fine Art

IMA MFON: NIGERIAN IDENTITIES / DONNA RUFF: THE MIGRANT SERIES AT RICK WESTER FINE ART

by Diana McClure

 Photos: Anders Jones

Two solo exhibitions, Ima Mfon’s series Nigerian Identities and Donna Ruff’s The Migrant Series, are presented in dialogue with each other at Rick Wester Fine Art, through April 22, as a curatorial choice. Together they amplify what appears to be a global reckoning with notions of migration and immigration, both voluntary and forced.  

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Meghann Riepenhoff: Littoral Drift at Yossi Milo Gallery

Meghann Riepenhoff: Littoral Drift at Yossi Milo Gallery

Words by Diana McClure/  Photography by Anders Jones

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Meghann Riepenhoff’s latest photographic artwork is made in collaboration with the natural world. Her “living prints” are baptized through a process that uses rainstorms, snow, ocean waves and other earthly elements as central to the development of her one-of-a-kind prints. The body of work, titled Littoral Drift, employs a cameraless, cyanotype photographic process, using paper, light and chemistry to magnificent effect.

Riepenhoff begins by coating sheets of paper with a homemade cyanotype emulsion; a mix of chemicals, producing a cyan blue print that can be altered to create a range of blue tonalities. In addition to submerging the paper in a variety of forms of water, the interaction of sunlight, sand and salt with the chemicals results in staggeringly voluptuous abstractions in a wide-ranging palette of blues and white.

A sublime familiarity can be found in the large-scale works featured in the exhibition. Without even knowing Riepenhoff's process, ocean vistas and NASA style topographical views of planet earth, as well as batik and tie-dye traditions of printing, come to mind. The added knowledge of how her images come to life, only increases the wonder found in the organic, natural and earthy feel of it.

In the final "fixing" stages of her chemical process, Riepenhoff leaves any lingering photosensitive chemistry in tact, setting the stage for future shifts in color and texture over time (sometimes a result of salt residue). This artistic choice echoes the element of chance found in the historical processes of early photography and science used in the work, as well as her own interest as an artist in the theme of impermanence.

Many of the works are comprised of a grid or grouping of images. Single pieces, diptychs and triptychs within one frame, and large-scale works comprised of multiple cyanotypes, create complete works of art that are structurally compelling. In, Littoral Drift #464 (Bainbridge Island, WA 12.07.16, Seven Simulated Waves, Freezing and Melting), 2016, 48 cyanotypes at 19"x24" each, are presented as a grid at the size of 113 1/4" x 190 3/8". The only unframed work in the exhibition, it is also the largest piece; a stunning abstraction of what could be crashing waves, ocean spray and seam foam. A textured sprinkling of white dots covers one area of the piece; perhaps salt crystals in the mist of metamorphosis.

All of the works on view are named for their location, date, and the atmospheric conditions under which they were made, a nod to nature as Riepenhoff's collaborator.