We already wrote a bit about this show on the blog but the images are just too good so we thought an 'in-pictures' was called for. All the quotes are from photography critic Vince Aletti and courtesy of The Museum of the City of New York.

Aletti has described Rose's Coney Island photographs as remarkabley intimate portraits of people relaxing as if in the privacy of their own homes: "Roaming the Coney Island beach, Rose was careful not to burst that bubble . Always moving, holding his camera at his side, and looking anywhere but at his subjects, he was able to catch people at ease and unaware, often at close range."

Aletti has described Rose's Coney Island photographs as remarkabley intimate portraits of people relaxing as if in the privacy of their own homes: "Roaming the Coney Island beach, Rose was careful not to burst that bubble . Always moving, holding his camera at his side, and looking anywhere but at his subjects, he was able to catch people at ease and unaware, often at close range."

 “Stepping onto the sand at Coney Island is like stepping into history and going up against Weegee, Lisette Model, Leon Levinstein, Sid Grossman, Bruce Davidson, Richard Avedon, and everyone else who’s been drawn to that throng of half-naked humanity. When Aaron Rose took up the challenge in his twenties, he had other precedents in mind—Reginald Marsh and the artists of the Ashcan School—but his results, have a place in photography’s history too."

 “Stepping onto the sand at Coney Island is like stepping into history and going up against Weegee, Lisette Model, Leon Levinstein, Sid Grossman, Bruce Davidson, Richard Avedon, and everyone else who’s been drawn to that throng of half-naked humanity. When Aaron Rose took up the challenge in his twenties, he had other precedents in mind—Reginald Marsh and the artists of the Ashcan School—but his results, have a place in photography’s history too."

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled© Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Rose's photographs showcase the rich mix of races, ethnicities, sexualities, and body types on display on the sandy landscape of Coney Island—described by Aletti as “a place where privacy is a state of mind.”

Rose's photographs showcase the rich mix of races, ethnicities, sexualities, and body types on display on the sandy landscape of Coney Island—described by Aletti as “a place where privacy is a state of mind.”

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Untitled. © Aaron Rose. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

You can find an interview with Aaron Rose in American Photo here.

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AuthorSacha Waldron

I only became aware of this exhibition in the last few days and unfortunately it closes at the weekend but Aaron Rose’s lush sun-kissed shot of Coney Island, currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York are, even at this late stage, worth ruminations.

Rose began photographing New York’s seaside resort Coney Island in 1961. Swarms of beach-goers are captured in this tanned, sweating, bikini-clad leisure melting pot but the viewer can pick out subtle interactions and private competitive moments. A man sits on the beach staring out to see as his rotund lady friend stands behind him, hands on hips, her eyes seemingly closed to soak up the rays. A mad-hatted lady seems to have been captured and startled by Rose’s lens. She looks directly at him, her nose protector and straw crown render us a folk mask from an exotic festival or ritual. In a rare posed shot, a young body-builder, hands proudly on hips, is captured in a full-frontal display of muscle and bicep. As he shows off, behind him we see a couple lying on a towel mid-embrace. Their skin is much paler, they have of course perhaps been too busy for sun-bathing but an odd detail is the heavily tanned and bronzed left arm of the male. The colour like a sleeve.

Rose was one of the earliest photographers to use C-print paper and chromogenic processing, the colours he amped up were the skin tones, of the heat and human perspiration. 70 images are on display at the Museum and this is, strangely, the first time they have ever been displayed as a collection. Rose has been a New Yorker is whole life but was largely ignored by the art world until the mid 1990’s by which time he had already produced over 25,000 images, each printed only once. He was asked to exhibit as part of the Whitney Biennial in 1997 which, in a sense, launched his photography career. For Rose, the process of making the image is as important as the finished product and he uses skills learnt during a brief period in commercial photography combining them with the, at the time, emerging new technology of chromogenic colour film. Rose pushes the boundaries of the film, increasing the speed and grain to produce highly textured prints that are baked and glowing, smelling of Soltan and the fried onions of a calorific Coney Dog. 

Posted
AuthorSacha Waldron

Spencer Finch is no stranger to the Kent coastal landscape. In 2011 the American artist hoisted 100 flags, all dyed with variants of sea colour, in Folkestone and installed a colour wheel on the seafront as part of Folkestone Triennial. 2014 sees a return of the artist, this time to Turner Contemporary in Margate, for a medium-sized solo exhibition, The Skies Can’t Keep Their Secret, and his first in the UK in the last five years.

Turner Contemporary is currently celebrating a ‘Summer of Colour’ and the majority of the exhibition spaces are taken up with a look at the work of Piet Mondrian and his transition from landscape and figuration into abstraction. The gallery walls are painted grey and the spaces feel dark, rather serious. It’s clear that you’re there to look, to think about the looking. Heads down, exam begins. A relief then, to emerge from the warrens into the sea facing galleries and Spencer Finch, flooded with light.

Natural light with its shifts and changes is the main focus for Finch’s exhibition. The centre of the gallery is taken up by a large suspended ‘cloud’, Passing Cloud (After Constable) 2014. Made from ‘translucent filters’ but looking rather like the plastic sheeting you wrap paintings up in, the material is pinned together with wooden clothes pegs in an abstract cloudy bunch. The filters transparency alters with the changing light of the day apparently but unfortunately I did not witness anything during my brief visit. The same is true of another work Back to Kansas (2013) consisting of a grid of painted squares on the gallery walls. The size of the squares is scaled proportionally to the aspect ratio that the film, The Wizard of Oz, would have been projected and the colours replicate those from the technicolor scenes. As the light in the gallery fades as do the colours, turning the colour saturated squares to black and white. Again I did not stay long enough to witness this and I imagine the stewards in the gallery are the only ones really witnessing the works true effects. Lucky them. No wonder they kept asking visitors ‘Are you enjoying the art?’ for they, perhaps not the visitor, were getting the true durational effect.

Two series of paper works are hung on the smaller opposite and adjacent walls, Wave Studies (2014) which has white tape on white paper producing an almost invisible pattern and Sunlight on an Empty Room (2014) which barely perceptible watercolour marks are made on white paper. These along with Atlantic Ocean (Coney Island), 2014, an LED light-box with a Fuji transfer of colourful wavy shapes, are largely forgettable. The work that lines the large back wall of the gallery, however, is not. Thank You Fog (2009) consists of 60 archival inkjet photographs roughly 11” x 11” arranged in a one line series at head height. If you begin at the beginning, the photographs appear just black squares. As you progress and peer into them, something, somewhere, starts to emerge. A verdant forest seen from its canopy or perhaps just within its boundaries. The effect, as you move along has some magic to it, a little like a view-master souvenir clicking through its slides to reveal, at the end, the forest landscape previously obscured by fog in Sonoma County. This work is the delight of the exhibition and, playing at rich art dealer, actually inspired me to request the pricing details from his Chicago Gallery. A very nice email informed me, several days later, that it would cost $65,000 but I had to politely decline. I just don't think it would fit in with the decor of our Margate flat. That is the only reason of course.

Posted
AuthorSacha Waldron