Today At Christie’s

Copyright 2005 Jens Haas -

Christie’s has its big photography week with works from the Miller-Plummer Collection, and “The American Landscape: Color Photographs from the Collection of Bruce and Nancy Berman.” And more. With the auctions due later in the week, most of the work has been on display since Saturday. If you are in town, I strongly recommend to go and see it. The American Landscapes are nice, too much so almost. There’s much alikeness, and a romantic desire to please the eye. So much of it in the same place, and you feel (with some nostalgia perhaps) that the 1950s/60s/70s were an era when ‘America’ could be captured in perfect type, cool car design, and the ideal mix of pastels and straightforward color. The glorious, sometimes whimsical past of color photography! But if you want to see a lot of Eggleston, Shore, etc., hanging side by side, you must go. Sally Mann I never understood, to me this is the lowest form of 1980ies kitsch (lowest because of the pretense); but it’s there too.

So which one would I buy? I would not buy “Madrid, 1933” by HCB, but I think it’s a masterpiece, albeit in the dead language of the ‘decisive moment.’ I would buy an ingenious, timeless piece by Ray Metzker (“Ray Metzker, Untitled, 1983-1984, 14 gelatin silver contact strip composite, signed and numbered ‘5/20’, 30 x 13 3/8 inches”). There is no point in following the link (here) to Christie’s abysmal website, even the zoomed in version does not translate at all. The detail is most intriguing, you can look for a long time, and the longer you look, the more you see. And with the all-too-rare sensation that not just the work, but this kind of visual experience is quite unique. You have to go and see the thing in the flesh.