On Site: LEWIS BALTZ – San Quentin Point

In Exhibits, Gallery, Photo Print Collector, Photographer on March 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

From the San Quentin Point portfolio

The questioning of the photograph in its relation to reality, the interrogation of representation, the famous crisis of representation, really took place before digital technology.
– Lewis Baltz

Concurrent with the Margaret Bourke-White exhibit at the Rauch Gallery in Bethlehem, Pa through June 10, is an interesting display of work by “New Topographics” photographer and artist, Lewis Baltz.

We found the exhibit to elicit responses beginning with “boring”, “bland” and “pretentious” but after several walk-throughs, we began to understand the sense of isolation and hopelessness these images engender in the viewer. The technical artistry of the printing is also of note. At a time when color was gaining momentum in fine art photography among his peers, Baltz chose the starkness of monochrome for these images.

Baltz’s aesthetics are often referred to as ‘counter aesthetics’, as they reveal desolate landscapes and forgotten places with a dispassionate eye. His style is expressionless and obsessive, as he examines his subjects over long periods of time.  This, according to some authors, makes him more closely aligned with conceptual art than with traditional photography.

San Quentin Point was photographed in 1982-1983 and occupies a special position in the evolution of the photographer’s work.  Baltz has, in the guise of a forensically neutral statement, actually beautified the phenomena of an urban wasteland.  By using the frame as a microscope, he has suggested that the disturbances observed here in miniature are legible as part of a larger allegory of American society.

For more information: LUAG Galleries

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