Monday, April 23, 2012

Michael Collins: Pictures from the Hoo Peninsula @Borden

JTF (just the facts): A total of 10 color images, hung in the divided gallery space. The chromogenic color prints come in two sizes: 48x60 (framed in brown with no mat, in editions of 7) and 20x24 (framed in black and matted, in editions of 15); there are 7 images in the large size and 3 in the small size on display. All of the works were made in 2011 and 2012. (Installation shots at right.)

Comments/Context: Michael Collins muted photographs of English marshlands and salt flats have the timeless quality of Dutch landscape paintings. In a palette of understated greens, browns, and greys, his images of rotting wooden barges at low tide seem like a mournful song for this lonely graveyard of beached carcasses. Time has left this place behind, and soon enough, muddy waters and stringy grasses will reclaim what's left of these abandoned hulks.

Collins' large format photographs are extremely detailed, so every decayed plank and seaweed covered hull is rendered with gorgeous crispness. The curved shapes of the barges still have a hint of their old elegance, but they are now mostly decomposing skeletons, the color leached out to an almost monochrome dullness. Stubby dock pilings stand up like bones in the misty skies, a path through the sand and grass leading nowhere. Barges are left to rot where they lay, as solitary sculptural figures or as jumbles of decomposing lumber washed together by the ebb and flow of the squelching water.

These pictures are quietly meditative and subtly romantic, and I think my takeaway from them is the thought that the contemporary landscape genre need not necessarily be postmodern, ironic and/or overtly harsh to be effective. These are well-crafted images that tell a small, rich story. They capture the passage of time, the evolution of the land, and the changing priorities of the community, all in a handful of elegantly silent frames.
Collector's POV: The prints in this show are priced in ratcheting editions. The 48x60 prints start at $8000 and rise to $11000, while the 20x24 prints start at $3000 and rise to $5000. Collins' work has not yet found its way to the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point.

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Artist site (here)
  • Features/Reviews: Financial Times (here), New York Photo Review (here)
Michael Collins: Pictures from the Hoo Peninsula
Extended through May 15th

Janet Borden, Inc.
560 Broadway
New York, NY 10012


Anonymous said...

Collins should have continued his series of cityscapes of London. He should revisit and exhaust 'London', asap. These new pictures are terrible. Thomas Bangsted does unsentimental ''meditative'' better.

Tom Nutter said...

More Beached Boats?...Such a darling of large format photographers these days....guess there is no chance of them moving while you set up your camera....Lets move from this reiteration of Ruin-Porn, fast turning into a cliché of its own, to something else equally unmoving....or better yet, something new.

Anonymous said...

@ Tom Nutter

Anon's comment was more instructive; yours just snarky.

Tom Nutter said...

@ "Anonymous" #2

Snarky is as Snarky does, Mr. or Ms. "Anonymous."

Kate P. said...

I just googled Thomas Bangsted's work. Wonderful. Thank you, Anon, for the heads-up.

K. Pentreath