In general, in a time when images of the arctic have become a bit hackneyed, Becker seems to have found ways to keep the work fresh and unexpected, successfully mixing surprising beauty and serious commentary.
Collector's POV: The prices for the works in the show are as follows: the portfolio of 17 prints is $18000 (sold as a single unit), the large 44x52 prints are either $6000 or $7000, the smaller 26x30 prints are $3500, and the diptych is $5250. Becker has virtually no secondary market track record, so gallery retail is really the only option for interested collectors at this point.
While we are not landscape photography collectors, we can certainly appreciate the decorative quality of these pictures, as well as the many subcontexts and connections to the issues of our times that they represent. I think it would be an interesting juxtaposition to dig up some similar long exposure images of rivers by O'Sullivan and other 19th century expedition photographers from the American West and hang them side by side with Becker's works.
Overall, these images are particularly memorable as a group, and will therefore work well in book form where the individual images can play off each other. I can also imagine a few of the largest prints being hung dramatically on their own, the otherworldly blue of the water catching a viewer's eye from across a room.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
Olaf Otto Becker, Above Zero
Through January 9th
41 East 57th Street
New York, NY 10022