1999-08-14 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein

Running until October 9, a very interesting exhibit is to be seen at the Zabriskie Gallery, 41 East 57 street in Manhattan. The exhibit consists of the posters and two books published by Zabriskie Editions and some of the original artworks they reproduce. The posters are from shows at both Zabriskie Gallery in New York and Galerie Zabriskie Paris, held in the 1970s and 1980s. When not possible in this exhibit to display the original work reproduced in the poster, another work by the same artist is displayed. All the artists are photographers, with the exception of Mary Frank, whose pieces consist of monoprints and sculptures.

What is so fascinating about this show is that one is able to explore the individual artwork itself and, in addition, one is able to explore how it works as an element of design within the larger context of a poster. We get, as it were, "two for the price of one." Why might this particular work have been chosen for the poster; how is the work placed in the design; how does its effect differ in a poster context from that in its own individual context? How do the various elements of the poster compliment each other, how do they work together and how are they woven together to serve the task of "hooking" the viewer visually while giving him/her the information necessary to get him/her to the right place at the right time to see an entire exhibit of this artist’s work? Equally, these served as beautiful and accessible momentos of the experience of seeing a collection of work by a particular artist or artists. The present exhibition therefore affords the opportunity to examine "poster" as "work of art." Made by some of the world’s finest printers such as Stamperia Valdonegra of Verona and Custom Color of New Jersey, these posters were created in luxurious mechanical reproduction processes such as collotype and ceipitone.

Artists in the exhibit include, among others, Ansel Adams, Mary Frank, Eugene Atget, Man Ray, Paul Caponigro, Harry Callahan, Mark Feldstein and Alfred Stieglitz. In almost every case the posters feature one image by one artist, marking his or her solo show. Most of the posters are of shows by American photographers having solo exhibitions in Paris for the first time. This was work, therefore, people in Europe hadn’t seen but of which they had perhaps heard, giving these posters an even greater significance.

"Brancusi: Photographer" and "Theodore Roszak: Photograms" are the two books featured. The Brancusi book, alone, makes it worth visiting this exhibit. The plates were printed from Brancusi’s original negatives. The artist photographs his own works in his own atelier. This photographic interpretation by the sculptor himself adds an extra layer of artistry and of meaning to experiencing the book. He defines the work and the space by how he chooses to compose and light the pieces in the setting of and in relation to the space that surrounds them. Even the air standing between the sculptures becomes a defining element. Often stunningly lit, the works come breathtakingly to life. One feels their truth has somehow finally been revealed. "Oh," one thinks, "so this is how this form was meant to move through space." "Ah, that is how that body of wood vibrates."

While you’re in the gallery ask to see a very unique set of "paintings" by twin sisters, Maria and Natalya Pechatnikov. Created not from paint but from pieces of sheer transparent color fabric called tulle, the meticulously made "paintings" imitate glazing in the layering of fabric to create subtlety of image. The sisters, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, weave together and manipulate the tulle in various ways, exploring a variety of effects.

Zabriskie Gallery is located in one of those wonderful buildings where you can ride up and down on the elevator to visit galleries on various floors. Spend a nice summer’s day doing exactly that.

Due to the proverbial "cir-cumstances beyond our control", RAA’s "Movie Weekend" must be postponed. Scheduled for August 27 and 28, the event will probably take place in the spring. Watch this column for details and keep those beach chairs oiled. We hope to make this a special treat for you.

Return here next week and we will have more of interest, for both the mind and the eye.


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