This photograph, of loose cobblestones scattered atop a gridded bed of similar pieces, is from Barney Kulok’s book Building: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island, published by Aperture in 2012. In the fall of 2011, Kulok was granted special permission to create photographs at the construction site of the Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park, commissioned in 1970 as a memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The last design Kahn completed before his untimely death in 1974, the park became widely regarded as one of the great unbuilt masterpieces of twentieth-century architecture. Kulok’s black-and-white photographs translate the austere geometry and muscular presence of Kahn’s designs, yet, as this photograph demonstrates, also function as a lyrical meditation on Minimal and Post-Minimal art. In this work, moody grays demonstrate Kulok’s remarkable control of tonal range, and the series as a whole functions as a statement about the value of carefully measured photographic seeing at a time when the instant digital photo has become the common currency of the medium. Here form and texture merge. As architect Steven Holl writes, “Kulok’s photographs free the subject matter from a literal interpretation of the site. They stand as ‘Equivalents’ to the words about material, light, and shadow that Louis Kahn often spoke.”
Barney Kulok is a graduate of the Bard College photography program and is represented by Galerie Hussenot in Paris. He lives and works in New York City.
Signature: Signed and numbered by the artist
About Barney Kulok
Barney Kulok shoots straight and does not manipulate his prints, yet his color and black-and-white photographs of his minutely observed surroundings are surreal in appearance. With references to Minimalism, Land Art, and the conceptual photography of Jeff Wall, and with architectural spaces and plans as his touchstones, he explores materials, scenes, light, and shadow, and the way the camera captures them. Among his early series is “Simple Facts,” visual snippets cut from his surroundings. These range from a ghostly stain on the headrest of a car seat to a bulky form covered with a tarp, infused with humor and poetry by virtue of his precise framing. For a more recent series, “Building” (2011-12), Kulok documented subtle details scattered about the construction site of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park—each one monumentalized and infused with references in his gelatin silver prints.
American, b. 1981, New York, New York, based in New York, New York