Friday, January 7, 2011

Katy Grannan- Boulevard


Katy Grannan's Boulevard at The Fraenkel Gallery features high key color portraits that are stunningly striking, so I really wanted to like these. Then why did I leave the gallery feeling somewhat unconvinced?

The subject matter certainly is not new- what is? But that wasn't it either. Throughout the exhibit I felt as if I was wandering from one illuminated microscopic slide study to another. The prostitutes, cross dressers and other characters that fill her Boulevard lens are certainly colorful enough- every which way imaginable. But with the exception of a handful of images, instead of seeing individuals, I was seeing a lot of surface detail, and having surveyed the surface, had little desire to look further- characters lost within their own personal landscape.

I couldn't help but think of Avedon's In The American West. Those portraits were rich with the detail of individual character that would command you to try and divine what was hidden underneath. There's little chance of that here.

I walked to the back room and found a vintage Arbus portrait of a US vet. It was an early 35mm shot that I don't think I've ever seen before, an absorbing image that demanded my attention, and held it all the way home.

5 comments:

Eric Rose said...

The Grannan photos are richly textured emptiness.

Stan B. said...

In all fairness, there are a few that do go beyond the wow factor, but "richly textured emptiness-" Eric, I think they could use that as a selling point in the promotional literature...

I don't know to what extent these are candids, but I have to wonder if these portraits would have vastly improved and gained a certain gravitas had the majority of subjects looked into the lens...

Eric Rose said...

the lack of emotional connection with the camera (viewer) is what I was referring to. Just another collection of weird looking people, but with no soul behind it. For me at least these photos don't even rate as "fashion" shots. Harsh? Maybe.

Stan B. said...

No argument here...

Mark Page said...

just what the world needs, another photo freak show.