Sergio Purtell, ‘REAL, 3rd St. and 3rd Ave., Gowanus, Brooklyn NY, Ed. 1/10’, 2008, SILAS VON MORISSE gallery


Each image comes in 3 sizes:

LARGE : 50.5 x 63.5 in. (128.3 x 161.3 cm.) - Edition of 3
MEDIUM : 37 3/4 x 47.5 in. (94 x 120.6 cm) - Edition of 6
SMALL: 19 3/4 x 23 3/4 in. (51 x 61 cm) - Edition of 10

Architectures of Disappearance forms only a part of the artist's greater project Real. Mingling an almost de Chirico-esque sense of place with a documentarian's eye for detail, Purtell's photographs evidence an ever-changing cityscape in the process of its own disappearance. The works selected for exhibition were taken in Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Gowanus, and hauntingly portray structures and landmarks already repurposed or removed, such as the 1882 Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, the once-prominent Kentile Floors sign in Gowanus, and the former Bushwick warehouse now occupied by the Luhring Augustine Gallery.

Begun in 2008, the project as a whole strikingly reveals rapid socio-economic changes throughout the US, taking for its subject-matter regions whose gentrified social and architectural landscapes fragment into the unfamiliar, creating an emotional climate of stark estrangement. Encompassing Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, as well as parts of New England and eastern regions of the States, ART 3’s curators have chosen to focus on the parts of Real that relate to Brooklyn. These black-and-white photographs document an invisible telos underlying the surface materiality of the spaces pictured.
Purtell traces the outlines of revenant human actions through Brooklyn’s empty streets, underscoring the strangeness of local businesses bereft of commerce, graffiti seemingly relegated to a proscribed space, and makeshift hovels where the homeless can shelter for warmth. Figures rarely make an appearance in these photos, only occasionally will two people eerily drift by canoe through the Gowanus channel, or a young man in wedding attire destroy his own car. Meanwhile, the same place and time yields a dark-haired woman searching through a portable greenhouse.

Populated or not, these images are all the more alluring because they document ordinary actions that have become momentous in light of the changes Brooklyn has since undergone.

In the words of Purtell: “This photographic project is large in scope. I want it to be dense, to create a visual catalog of current America through a journey. It is in the course of a journey that one looks to the landscape for traces, metaphors and the visual facts of this life”.

Purtell’s sensitivity toward people and landscapes was developed during his childhood travels across Chile, which comprised the busy streets of Santiago as well as the lonely expanses of the PanAmerican Highway into Patagonia. Among his most important influences, he credits the obsessive narratives of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, and the photographer Tod Papageorge who was his university mentor at Yale.

Press release written by Jeffrey Grunthaner

SERGIO PURTELL, American, b. 1955 in Santiago, Chile, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He moved from his native Santiago de Chile to the US in 1973, after Pinochet’s coup. He received his BFA in photography from RISD. After teaching photography in New Haven he moved to New York City in the mid-1980’s. As a fine art photographer Purtell has exhibited worldwide, with most interest in his work in Europe. His works from this period are in many public and private collections in USA, Germany Japan, France, Italy, Holland, Spain, Belgium, Chile and Panama. In the 1990s he turned to commercial photography and worked for design studios, prestigious magazines and publishers. Purtell went on to pursue his love of fine art printing and in 1996 opened print studio Black and White on White, specializing in exhibitions and books for distinguished fine art photographers (his first job was for the Walker Evans estate). The studio is now located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where he continues his collaboration with many major artists, estates, museums, and galleries, and again works on his own fine art photography.
ART 3 opened in Bushwick in May 2014 near Luhring Augustine, created by Silas Shabelewska, formerly of Haunch of Venison and Helly Nahmad Gallery in partnership with Monika Fabijanska, former Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.
Detailed information about the artist: and
Please contact ART 3 for inquiries, images and interview requests

What: Sergio Purtell. In Brooklyn: Architectures of Disappearance
When: April 8 – May 17, 2015, Wed-Sat 12-6, Sun 1-6
Opening: Wednesday, April 8, 6-9 PM
Where: ART 3 Gallery, 109 Ingraham Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Transportation: L train to Morgan Avenue; front of the train; walk two blocks
Admission: free
More information:

Series: REAL

Image rights: © Sergio Purtell, courtesy ART 3 gallery

2015, Sergio Purtell, In Brooklyn: Architectures of Disappearance, April 8 - May 17, ART 3, Brooklyn, NY

ART 3 gallery

About Sergio Purtell

Sergio Purtell creates lush silver gelatin prints inspired by people and landscapes, including those experienced during his travels across Chile, from urban Santiago to the sweeping plains of Patagonia. Since moving to the U.S., where he studied with leading photographers and printers at RISD and Yale, he has turned his lens on the architectural and social landscapes of the city, capturing the process of gentrification, abandonment, and displacement as it happens. In addition to his own artistic practice, Purtell is a well-respected printer whose first job was printing for the Walker Evans estate. Today he is the owner of the Black and White on White printing studio in Brooklyn.

Chilean , b. 1955

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