Like Breath on Glass
Whistler, Innes, and Art of Painting Softly
Here is an exhibit in New England I would like to see for two reasons. Primarily because it is being shown in the Stone Hill Center, a new addition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. The Stone Hill Center was designed by Tadao Ando, the revered Japanese master of meditative spaces and harmonious designs that incorporate primarily underground space that greatly reduces the impact on the visual landscape. There is a second phase to this expansion that will include an even larger building and a reflecting pool. I've never had the privilege of experiencing an Ando building first hand, and this is reason alone to visit this exhibit in my opinion.
Second is the tie in this show has to photography history and the crossroad collisions that occurred among photographers and painters in the late 19th century as photography began to assert itself as an art medium. For the most part, it was photographers who mimicked painters, the Pictorialists such as Henry Peach Robinson, who emulated painting in their work, much to the chagrin of Straight photographers such as Berenice Abbott and Walker Evans.
This exhibit is a display of blurrily luminous scenes which give the impression of under or over-exposed and poorly focused photographs....leading to the question....were these painters influenced by Pictorialist photographers? The show even includes several landscapes painted by a young Edward Steichen. The painting shown above, Across the Salt Marshes, Huntington, is from 1905, the same year Steichen helped create Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession with Alfred Stieglitz,a gallery that helped bring art photography, primarily that in the Pictorialist style, to the same level of appreciation in America as painting and sculpture.
New York Times Exhibit Review