Wirtz Art is pleased to present Classic Melanie Pullen. The exhibition will run from September 12th – October 30th 2016.
Melanie Pullen’s acclaimed series “High Fashion Crime Scenes” (1995-2005) is based on vintage crime scene photographs from the Los Angeles Police Department archives, the County Coroner’s Office, and other primary source documents. She was initially inspired by the subject of Luc Santé’s 1992 book, Evidence: crime scene photographs from the New York Police Department’s archives. In a return to early, less clinical methods of crime scene photography, Pullen revisits the artistic sensibilities once applied to composition, lighting, and drama; she constructs a narrative with each image. Pullen creates elaborate crime scenes of her own – where the “victims” are not anonymous bodies, but young, striking models adorned in haute couture. She draws up complex storyboards that utilize professional makeup, fashion, set design, and stunt-acting to divert from the inherent violence within the photograph. “High Fashion Crime Scenes” harnesses fashion’s power to disguise and distract, prompting the viewer to focus on anything but the crime itself. Included in the exhibition are two new works from 2016's "The Haunted Series." Focusing this time on the moments before violent events, these works further unsettle the viewer by presenting underage subjects, whose stories are based on real-life events. They tap more deeply into the unfortunate realities that glamorous fashion shots so often cover up.
Pullen was raised in New York City, in a family of photojournalists, publishers, and artists. She is fascinated by the set-up of a photograph, the imagination of the before and after the shot, and the intersection of histories that lie behind the image. Her work examines the roles we play, and how we present them to the world. More recently, Pullen has explored the dramatic, stylized face of violence and the empty sheen of advertising imagery. Pullen’s monograph, High Fashion Crime Scenes, was published in 2005 by Nazraeli Press, and is available worldwide. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
About the Gallery: For the past four decades Connie and Stephen Wirtz have developed the careers of some of the most celebrated Bay Area artists. Together they have pioneered the work of fine art photography at a time when photography was still a marginalized art form, supporting such groundbreaking work as the 1978 exhibition, “L. Moholy = Nagg.” Over the years they opened their gallery to a range of emerging and accomplished contemporary artists, featuring such international artists as Arnaldo Pomodoro, Richard Avedon and Magdalena Abakanowicz, as well as cultivating the early careers of such California-based artists as Larry Sultan, Jim Goldberg, Todd Hido, Deborah Oropallo, and Marc Katano. Today Connie continues the Stephen Wirtz avant-garde tradition with a special focus on low-profile and late-career artists who have had an important impact on their field.