Yancey Richardson is pleased to feature work by eight artists who have utilized the reductive and timeless qualities of black and white photography to create work that explores concepts of beauty and desire found in animate and inanimate forms. Through the classical medium of gelatin silver prints, the artists transform the literal into the evocative, dramatic, and timeless. Our presentation includes work by Kenneth Josephson, Matt Lipps, Zanele Muholi, Irving Penn, Sebastião Salgado, Mark Steinmetz, Mickalene Thomas, and Yamamoto Masao.
Kenneth Josephson is recognized as one of the pioneers of conceptual photography. He has explored the concepts of photographic truth and illusion throughout his career, producing a varied oeuvre that utilizes a range of techniques from collage and construction to multiple exposures and single negative photographs. Focusing on what it means to make a picture, Josephson’s work playfully highlights the illusive nature of photography. Josephson’s work has been exhibited in numerous institutions internationally including a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Getty Museum and the Moderna Museet, and more.
Over the past twenty years, Matt Lipps has developed a distinctive photographic practice that pays tribute to the history of twentieth century photography and questions the dominant myths that structure our cultural narratives. As a young photographer discovering his queer identity, Lipps immersed himself in the glamorous pages of fashion magazines, privately identifying with the supermodels and scrutinizing the work of photographers like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. Simultaneously, he studied the history and techniques of twentieth century masters like W. Eugene Smith, Ansel Adams, and Dorothea Lange. In his most recent work, Lipps meticulously cut out portions of the journalistic images and layered them onto freestanding cardboard silhouettes, creating three-dimensional tableaux that are then re-photographed on medium-format film and printed in the darkroom. The graphic, image-laden figures function as both surface and aperture while the combination of gritty realism and feminized sexuality creates new and unexpected readings. His work is in the permanent collections of major museums including the Getty Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum.
Zanele Muholi’s psychologically charged portraits from Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness) challenge the politics and traditions of race, gender, and representation of the black body within the visual archive. Intense, confrontational and even playful, their portraits experiment with archetypes and personas that reference the painful personal and shared histories of black LGBTQI+ individuals in South Africa. Muholi’s mid-career survey debuts at the Tate Modern in November 2020. This series has been prominently exhibited at the 2019 Venice Biennale, the 2019 Sydney Biennial, the Stedelijk Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum, among others.
Photography continues to be a defining cornerstone in Mickalene Thomas’s practice. Thomas’s portraits of empowered, contemporary muses draw inspiration from 1970’s "black-is-beautiful” fashion magazines, early modernist painting and mise-en-scene portraiture, while critically deconstructing accepted definitions of beauty. She carefully constructs and stages the interiors in each photograph to reflect the objects, patterns and domestic spaces that are associated with both the civil rights movement and the artist's childhood in Camden, New Jersey. The subjects in Thomas's photographs are modeled in classical poses, reclaiming agency for women who have traditionally been presented as objects of desire and subjugation. Solo exhibitions of Thomas’s work have been organized at the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Wexner Art Center and others.
Mark Steinmetz has spent his career capturing ordinary people and places in disarming moments of humor, tenderness and beauty. Working in series, his intimate black and white photographs cover such subjects as children and teenagers, small southeastern American towns, street scenes in Paris, and various Italian cities. Steinmetz remains committed to photographing on film and making his own prints in the darkroom, with each print conveying the artist's strong emotional response to light. His works has been acquired and exhibited by major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Japanese artist Masao Yamamoto explores the emotional power of photography, creating small-scale silver gelatin prints that highlight the relationship between photography and memory. He works with a range of subject matter, from the human form to the landscapes and natural wildlife that he encounters in the Japanese countryside. Intricately scaled and masterfully printed, Yamamoto’s photographs bear deliberate evidence of the artist’s hand where he has torn or creased the paper, applied flakes of gold paint or dashed of red and blue ink. Yamamoto’s photographs capture the subtle beauty that is found in the often-overlooked elements of daily life. Yamamoto has exhibited in numerous international institutions including the High Museum of Art, the George Eastman House, Carrousel du Louvre and more.