JUDITH JOY ROSS Some Americans
Opening reception: Saturday, 24 June 2017, 4pm
Introduction: Dr. Heinz Liesbrock, Director of the Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop
Judith Joy Ross will be present
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 11-6, Sat 12-6 and by appointment
Galerie Thomas Zander is delighted to present exhibitions of works by Judith Joy Ross and Robert Adams, two of the most renowned and influential contemporary artists in American photography.
Since the early 1980s, the photographer Judith Joy Ross (born 1946 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania) has produced a remarkable oeuvre focusing on sensitive, authentic portraits of people at the heart of society: school children and teachers, adolescents, soldiers, visitors at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., or members of the U.S. Congress. Her portraits, which are predominantly contextualized in series, offer an aesthetic as well as a psychologically empathic approach to photography. Ross’s elaborate traditional way of working with a large format camera and tripod gives her the time to engage with the person she is about to photograph. So the act of photographing itself becomes an intense encounter between photographer and subject, an expression of attention for and appreciation of the person vis-á-vis. Thanks to the shallow depth of field, the photographs lift the people from the background, balancing visual intimacy and respectful distance. The exhibition Some Americans features a special selection of mostly unpublished photographs taken between 1982 and 2016 in Ross’s home state of Pennsylvania. Without making any explicit references, this lyrically composed group, radiating a grounded sense of tranquility and human vulnerability, provides a soothing counterpoint to the heated atmosphere the country currently seems to be in. Ross uses the documentary style whose immediacy and transparency convey a regard for reality and for the medium and which gives room to an awareness of civic responsibility and a keen interest in people’s emotional states. Viewers are invited to imagine the inner realities of the individuals: “The picture honors what this man’s life was at that moment. Even if it isn’t exactly clear what his situation is, but one can think that they know. One can guess. One can care about him. So that is why I photograph people. I found I could capture the emotional and poetic truth of someone.“ (J.J.R.) The artist’s photographs are collected by major international institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Ross was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts for her work. Recent exhibitions were on view at SK Stiftung Kultur in Cologne and Fondation A Stichting in Brussels.
Robert Adams (born 1937 in Orange, New Jersey, lives and works in Astoria, Oregon) has adapted his vision in order to continue to find ecstatic moments in the ordinary in his recent work. But consistent in much of his work is the dependence of his compositions on light, as it is the case in the series An Old Forest Road (2012-2013) featured in this exhibition. The sequene of black and white photographs printed by the artist depicts the privilege of walking through a little-visited reserve of forest near the photographer's home in the American Northwest. Beyond the reserves there are miles of clearcuts. Adams's exquisite attentiveness to the sunlight piercing through a density of branches and leaves to reveal the hidden shapes and structure of the forest, and the shadows occluding the way forward, rendering it a portal to a destination unknown, brings out the subtle beauty of this simple wooded path. Especially when considering the series against the backdrop of Robert Adams’s oeuvre, these photographs offer a contemplative refuge of hope and affirmation in view of the radical transformation of the Western landscape brought about by human interference in nature. Since the early 1960s Robert Adams has explored the dialectic relationship of nature and civilization in his work. Alongside Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher and others, he participated in the seminal exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape in 1975, which redefined landscape photography. His important series The New West from the 1980s addresses the myth of the American West and draws attention to the exploitation of the landscape and its limited resources. However, Adams still finds there a fragile beauty that endures despite our troubled relationship with nature. His photographs are distinguished not only by their aesthetic economy and lucidity, but also by their mixture of grief and hope. Robert Adams received the Hasselblad Award and his works are in the collections of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Whitney Museum in New York, the Art Institute Chicago, and the Sprengel Museum Hanover, among others. Adams’s work is accompanied by numerous artist’s books. The publication An Old Forest Road is published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and was produced in collaboration with Galerie Thomas Zander and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.