Comments/Context: As a foil to the larger Baltz, Becher, Ruscha exhibit on view in the next room (here), this small show of the contemporary work of Jeff Brouws provides concrete evidence of the continued use and popularity of the typology as a photographic form. Like Evans and Christenberry before him, Brouws has an eye for vernacular America, tracking down a broad catalog of abandoned drive-in theaters, broken roadside advertising, and one-story storage units with rolling steel doors.
There is of course a limit to the ubiquity of the typology at some point; not every subject deserves such exacting attention. And this show reminded me that the typology is in many ways an originality reducing form; the more it is executed with systematic serial rigor, the less the individual images have a signature style that is obviously attributable to a specific maker. I think this brings us back to a strong dose of conceptualism as the foundation on which this form is built; those who casually hang their pictures in a grid without thinking through what this approach really implies are truly missing the point. Brouws has clearly thought this through and has opted for a more personal approach to the typology, a little less stringent and structured than many, but perhaps a little more comfortable and approachable.
Collector's POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The storage unit typology is priced at $10750, while the sign typology is $11750 and the drive-in typology is $22000. Brouws' work is not readily available in the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point.
Of the three typologies on view, my favorite was the selection of broken signs (Signs Without Signification); it's on the right in the bottom installation shot. I liked the way the empty outlines were pared down into the simple geometries of squares, rectangles and circles, almost like line drawings against the backdrop of the sky.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
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