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December 11, 2005

Stephen Shore and Peter Hujar at P.S.1

There's Contemporary Art Outside of Manhattan?? One of the best kept secrets in the NYC art world.. is P.S.1! It would seem some smart bloggers from the wrong west coast found it on their last tripl!

So, I got out my Atlas NYC tour book.. and traveled across water, into QUEENS to find P.S.1!
Img_0610And yes, I've been there before, the trip, as always, was well worth it!  P.S.1 was totally empty this Sunday, and while it may not be pretty to look out from the outside, it has some impressive sites inside. Currently 2 great shows, plus a entire host of extras.

The Stephen Shore : American Surface show has about 300 color photo's taken during his road trip across country from 1972 and 73. I found it almost too much to see in just one visit.  In a rebellion against the current art photo trend of Shore_july97frig_1 bigger is better size queens, all these photos are shown in ~8x10 prints.  There's no doubt in my mind Mr. Shore belongs right next to William Eggleston in the list of "Daddys" "Fathers"of color art Photography.
    I wasn't familiar with many of these images, but it was clear to see Shore's influence on so many modern color art photographers. Certainly Wolfgang Tillmans, Alec Soth, and Phillip Lorca DiCorci just to name a few, have copied  referenced Shore's work.  Many of the shows rich color images are of white trash common everyday things in middle America. His striking Michigan July 1972 image  (photo #2)of the inside of an empty dirty fridge, and some of his great dining table images just turn the typical concept of still life photography upside down. They are truly magical! A show not to be missed.. it's there only until Jan 23rd.Hujar_fayette

The other great show, is the first American museum exhibition dedicated to Peter Hujar(1934-1987) since 1990. Unlike the Matthew Marks Gallery, Peter Hujar:Night show this summer, this show is a full spectrum of Peter's work, some 70 images, many never exhibited or reproduced before.

   I've always thought of Hujar as one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 1980's.  This becomes clear with this show.  In the way Daine Arbus exploited drew attention to her freaks subjects oddities, Hujar's images almost romanticize their differences.  Here portraits of circus clowns, an ugly dog, a contortionist, and drag Queens/transvestites are made beautiful and normal.  Unlike the Night Show this summer, throughout all of this work you can seen Hujar's sense of mortality.  The images are much more somber but yet inspirational.  This feeling is most evident in his portrait of Candy Carling dying in a hospital bed.

The show is up until Jan 16th. Now, I just wish P.S.1 were in Manhattan!!

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Since you called me smart I won't give you too much of a hard time about that friggin cold coast you live on. P.S.1 Rocks!

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