Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Max Kozloff: New York Means Business 1977-1984 @Higher Pictures
Comments/Context: Max Kozloff is probably best known as a wide-ranging art historian, an exacting art critic, and a former editor of Artforum. That Kozloff is also a talented photographer in his own right was news to me, and this small show of his early work certainly helped to place his artistic output into the larger framework of 1970s color photography.
While I'm not sure I can detect a refined and original voice in these pictures, it is clear that Kozloff was working through the same visual challenges that were confronting photographers like Levitt and Callahan, trying to bridge from an accepted black and white methodology into an entirely different mode of visual thinking. Color for color's sake was becoming the new norm, and I see this body of work as yet another well-crafted example of a transitional effort to span the two sets of adjacent but competing aesthetic ideas.
My favorite image in the show was Zipper Shop, 1978; it's on the far right in the top installation shot. In it, strips of zipper ribbon hang from a sagging pair of wires, creating an eye-catching striped design, punctuated by the stenciled words on the window itself. The composition seems to have one foot in the old world and one in the new, using splashes of bright color as the focal point, enriching and rebalancing an otherwise standard view.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
Max Kozloff: New York Means Business 1977-1984
Through May 7th
764 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10065