Attention, Instagram addicts, portrait-mode obsessives, Leica fetishists and film nostalgists: it’s the last week to pop into Gagosian San Francisco and see an exhibition that’s tailor-made for today’s photography lovers. ‘About Photography’ takes broad questions as a foundation–how is photography used as an art medium? What does it inspire artists to see and do? How does it create new forms? And what does representation in a photograph signify?– but explores them through particular and thought-provoking works from artists who interpreted the answers in wildly different ways.
Juxtapositions are critical in this show, starting with its central figure: a sculpture of a figure holding a camera, poised to shoot, by Duane Hanson, considered one of Hanson’s many “snapshot[s] of America,” both figuratively and, in this context, literally. It’s positioned close to both Andy Warhol’s Screen Test of Edie Sedgwick and Richard Avedon’s portraits--Louis Armstrong, Malcolm X, and Warhol’s own Factory family. Taken together, the trio creates a multifaceted portrait of the links between photography and society.
Throughout the rest of the gallery, visitors will see how Ed Ruscha’s deadpan images of L.A. architecture parallel Andreas Gursky’s own exploration of the intersections between commerce, nature, and pop culture; how Diane Arbus’ startling black-and-white photographs of ordinary New Yorkers influenced Richard Prince’s Instagram imitations; and how photographers in the past twenty years have played with the idea of how images are reflected and refracted through a camera’s lens. And as the exhibition takes place in California, it wouldn’t be complete without a look at the role of light in photography – from the night sky of the San Fernando Valley to the shadows that lend evocative atmosphere to still-lifes. 657 Howard St.