Pictures for Books | Pop Shots | Jazz People

  • Duration
    August 24 – October 9, 2011
  • Works by
    Thomas Roma, Andy Warhol, Lee Friedlander
  • Curated By
    Susan Kismaric
    Stephen Hilger

The simultaneous presentation of Pictures for Books: Photographs by Thomas Roma, Jazz People: New Orleans Portraits by Lee Friedlander, and Pop Shots: Polaroid Portraits by Andy Warhol underscores how the medium both reflected and contributed to contemporary life during the second half of the twentieth century.

Curated by Susan Kismaric and organized by the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, Pictures for Books: Photographs by Thomas Roma offers a rare opportunity to view nearly 100 prints from four of the artist’s published works: Found in Brooklyn; Sicilian Passage; Come Sunday; and On Three Pillars: Torah, Worship, and the Practice of Loving Kindness—The Synagogues of Brooklyn. A member of the post-Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand generation of photographers, Roma chronicles urban life as it is lived by his fellow residents of Brooklyn, New York—whether riding the elevated subway train, entering storefront synagogues, worshipping in small African-American churches, or waiting in the corridors of the borough’s criminal court. The exhibition allows visitors to study prints of these subjects side by side and view the artist’s rare, limited edition hand-bound books. A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with an essay by Susan Kismaric and a selected bibliography accompanies the exhibition.

Jazz People: New Orleans Portraits by Lee Friedlander, curated by Stephen Hilger, presents thirty-eight black and white photographs from the 1950s and 1960s, drawn primarily from Tulane’s William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz. Considered one of the most significant American photographers of the postwar era, Friedlander has repeatedly looked to New Orleans as a central photographic subject since first visiting the city in 1957 amid a second revival of traditional jazz. His photographs—whether featuring fabled musicians such as “Sweet Emma” Barrett, Joe James, George Lewis, Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau, and “Kid Thomas” Valentine or vibrant street parades and celebrations—form a powerful record of New Orleans’ vernacular culture and also represent an early watershed moment in Friedlander’s development as an artist.

The thirty-one photographs exhibited in Pop Shots: Polaroid Portraits by Andy Warhol, also curated by Hilger, come from the large body of images the artist took in the 1970s and 80s as studies for his large-scale silk-screened renderings of elite clients and anonymous sitters alike. The Polaroids are not only fascinating records of Warhol’s artistic process but also dynamic images in their own right, recording genuine moments between the artist and his subject. At the time these portraits were made, Polaroid photography, with its capacity to develop instantly, had became a key component of Warhol’s studio practice. The Polaroids on view represent a portion of a generous gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Art’s Photographic Legacy Program to the Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University in 2008. The display of two Warhol silk-screened canvases, derived from a Polaroid portrait of New Orleanian Tina Freeman, along with a number of Polaroid outtakes from the same portrait session, detail the beginning and end points of his extended art-making process.


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