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Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being

From October 25, 2019 to March 28, 2020
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Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being
75 Russell Street
Lewiston, ME 04011
Ralph Eugene Meatyard (1925 - 1972) moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 1950 and developed a passion for photography along with a career as an optician. Over the next two decades, he created the enigmatic images that would secure his place in the history of the medium by consciously challenging the concept of the camera as a mere recorder of the world. Meatyard's photographs are seldom seen in Maine. Stages for Being celebrates his legacy with over eighty vintage prints chosen to explore his innovative practice of staging photographs.

Meatyard's work is deeply rooted in Kentucky, even as it reflects his wider knowledge of subjects as diverse as literature, jazz, philosophy, history, and art. On weekends, he scouted the countryside for abandoned homes to use as sets and directed his wife, children, and friends in scenes that suggest both ritual and theater. Creating mood with natural lighting, he used masks, dolls, and found objects as unsettling props and mined architectural detail for abstract compositional elements. He experimented with the expressive and metaphoric power of formal elements such as light and darkness, and explored photography's ability to make visible what the human eye doesn't register. He used motion to blur form, so that the human body appears to lose its solidity; at the same time, he blurred the line between the physical world and that of energy and the spirit. Considering the context in which he was working during the 1950s and 1960s-during the Cold War and Vietnam War, an era of tremendous social and political change in this country-gives his meditations on mortality a deeper relevance.

The photographer's carefully constructed images work on multiple levels and are best read like poetry that uses symbolic language to provoke reflection and revelation. His use of dolls and other props was inspired by Surrealism, with its unexpected and jarring juxtapositions and connection to the subconscious. When the photographer Minor White introduced him to Zen Buddhism in 1955, it provided Meatyard with a way of bringing focused awareness of place and of the moment to his practice. But, in the tradition of Zen kōans, it also suggested the offering of a puzzle to be unraveled through deep contemplation, a question with no single or correct answer.

Meatyard's voracious reading sparked endless ideas for his work and he embedded himself in Kentucky's cultural community through a circle of close friends that included writer, environmental activist, and farmer Wendell Berry; photographers Van Deren Coke and Robert C. May; the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who shared his interest in Zen; the painter Frederic Thursz; and the writer/poet/philosopher Guy Davenport. The latter could have been describing Meatyard's photographs when he wrote in a 1982 essay, "

Unless the work of art has wholly exhausted its maker's attention, it fails. This is why works of great significance are demanding and why they are infinitely rewarding.

This exhibition was curated by Janie M. Welker and organized by the University of Kentucky Art Museum.
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Exhibitions Closing Soon

In Mid-Sentence
Washington, DC
From May 03, 2019 to March 29, 2020
Photographs are often replete with words that remain unheard. "In Mid-Sentence" presents a selection of photographs from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery's collection that depict moments of communication: intimate confessions, public speeches, exchanged jokes, political confrontations, lectures and more. Photographs featured in this exhibition encapsulate pivotal moments, such as John F. Kennedy's televised speech for the 1960 Democratic National Convention or Walter Cronkite's clandestine 1971 meeting with Daniel Ellsberg at the time of the publication of the "Pentagon Papers." The exhibition provides the missing script for these otherwise silent voices, granting another means for understanding these interactions by placing them within their socio-historical contexts. An illustrated brochure accompanies the exhibition, and several of the represented speeches are included in an interactive kiosk. The exhibition is curated by Leslie Ureña, associate curator of photographs, National Portrait Gallery.
All the Marvelous Surfaces: Photography Since Karl Blossfeldt
Lincoln, MA
From October 12, 2019 to March 29, 2020
This group exhibition is inspired by German photographer Karl Blossfeldt's acclaimed Art Forms in Nature (1928), a collection of magnified plant specimens that immediately enthralled viewers with exquisite details of curling flower petals and the fractal growth of leaves. Originally used as models for craft and design students, this body of work is now considered one of the finest photographic projects of the early twentieth century. All the Marvelous Surfaces reorients photography through Blossfeldt's focus on patterning, scale, and surface detail, establishing his impact on the evolution of modern and contemporary photographic practices. The show delves into issues such as biases against ornamentation, the rise of surrealist estrangement, and the intersections of photography and sculpture throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Drawn mainly from deCordova's permanent collection, the artists on view range from mid-century masters such as Aaron Siskind and Harold Edgerton to contemporary figures who are advancing the photographic medium today, including Ellen Carey, Matt Saunders, and Erin Shirreff. Artists included in the show: David Akiba, Lucas Blalock, Karl Blossfeldt, Doug Bosch, Stephen Brigidi, Maryjean Viano Crowe, Harold Edgerton, Lalla Essaydi, Audrey Flack, Hilary French, Corin Hewitt, Henry Horenstein, Lucy Kim, Justin Kimball, Michael Kolster, Calvin Kowal, Salvatore Mancini, Abelardo Morell, Yamini Nayar, Matt Saunders, Gary Schneider, Kahn/Selesnick, Erin Shirreff, Aaron Siskind, Neal Slavin, Edward Steichen, and Bradford Washburn.
Peter Hutchinson: Landscapes of My Life
Lincoln, MA
From October 12, 2019 to March 29, 2020
This group exhibition is inspired by German photographer Karl Blossfeldt's acclaimed Art Forms in Nature (1928), a collection of magnified plant specimens that immediately enthralled viewers with exquisite details of curling flower petals and the fractal growth of leaves. Originally used as models for craft and design students, this body of work is now considered one of the finest photographic projects of the early twentieth century. All the Marvelous Surfaces reorients photography through Blossfeldt's focus on patterning, scale, and surface detail, establishing his impact on the evolution of modern and contemporary photographic practices. The show delves into issues such as biases against ornamentation, the rise of surrealist estrangement, and the intersections of photography and sculpture throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Drawn mainly from deCordova's permanent collection, the artists on view range from mid-century masters such as Aaron Siskind and Harold Edgerton to contemporary figures who are advancing the photographic medium today, including Ellen Carey, Matt Saunders, and Erin Shirreff. Artists included in the show: David Akiba, Lucas Blalock, Karl Blossfeldt, Doug Bosch, Stephen Brigidi, Maryjean Viano Crowe, Harold Edgerton, Lalla Essaydi, Audrey Flack, Hilary French, Corin Hewitt, Henry Horenstein, Lucy Kim, Justin Kimball, Michael Kolster, Calvin Kowal, Salvatore Mancini, Abelardo Morell, Yamini Nayar, Matt Saunders, Gary Schneider, Kahn/Selesnick, Erin Shirreff, Aaron Siskind, Neal Slavin, Edward Steichen, and Bradford Washburn.
In Real Life
Chicago, IL
From January 16, 2020 to March 29, 2020
As the powerful technology behind artificial intelligence grows more sophisticated, machines have developed the capacity to not only capture images but to "see" them as well. In Real Life is an exhibition seeking to examine the real-world impact of computer vision-from the murky ethics of data collection and surveillance to the racial and gender biases that abound in facial recognition technology. Through the lens of seven artists working with a range of digital media, In Real Life presents works that grapple with the fraught relationship between humans and technology, with an emphasis on the social and aesthetic ramifications of machine "seeing." With a charged underpinning of human biases, these pieces, many of which were generated through algorithmic technology, present a speculative near-future wherein the socio-political consequences of AI have already begun to compromise how we visualize the world-and our humanity. In Real Life is organized by MoCP executive director Natasha Egan. Artists include Stephanie Dinkins, Trevor Paglen, Leo Selvaggio, Maija Tammi, José Orlando Villatoro, Xu Bing, and Liam Young. The MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2019-2020 exhibition season is sponsored by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Efroymson Family Fund, and the Philip and Edith Leonian Foundation.Photo ©Maija Tammi, One of Them Is a Human #1
Ellen von Unwerth: Devotion!
New York, NY
From December 14, 2019 to March 29, 2020
Renowned German photographer Ellen von Unwerth presents Devotion! 30 Years of Photographing Women, a survery exhibition shown at Fotografiska Stockholm, now significantly expanded for New York. Devotion! explores von Unwerth's provocative yet playful photography through seven expressions: Play, Gender, Drama, Love, Power, Passion, and Lust. Each image, characteristic of von Unwerth's style, reflects lively, energetic, sensual style with a slight humorous touch. For the artist, it's never about objectifying, rather, playing with archetypes and stereotypes, high and low, stirring emotions and creating commotion. Ellen von Unwerth, born 1954 in Germany, gained wide attention with her sensual Guess campaign in the early 1990s, followed by campaigns for Absolut, Agent Provocateur, A.P.C., Aston Martin, Baccarat, Belvedere, Chanel, Chantal Thomass, Crazy Horse, David Morris, Diesel, Dior, Elisabetta Franchi, Ferragamo, G-Star, Guerlain, H&M, Hysteric Glamour, Jimmy Choo, Lacoste, L'Oréal, MAC Cosmetics, Mary Katrantzou, Mercedes-Benz, Miu Miu, Opel, Revlon, Rolex, Shiseido, Tommy Hilfiger, Veuve Cliquot, Victoria's Secret and many more.
Trump Revolution: Immigration
New York, NY
From February 15, 2020 to March 29, 2020
Through photos, words and multimedia, the BDC exhibition, Trump Revolution: Immigration, opening February 15th, documents the current president's overturning of decades of American immigration policy and law, and its profound effects on American society and the lives of millions of immigrants. This is the first in a year-long series of Trump Revolution exhibitions examining America's societal and political transformation, one whose speed, reach and consequences are unmatched in our country's history. Featuring: Greg Constantine, Kholood Eid, John Moore, Luis Antonio Rojas, Elliot Ross, Griselda San Martin, Cinthya Santos-Briones, Laura Saunders
Dawoud Bey: An American Project
San Francisco, CA
From February 15, 2020 to March 31, 2020
Since the beginning of his career, Dawoud Bey (American, born 1953) has used his camera to depict communities and histories that have largely remained underrepresented or even unseen. This full-scale retrospective highlights the artist's commitment over the course of his four-decade career to portraying the black subject and African-American history in a manner that is at once direct and poetic, and immediate and symbolic. The exhibition includes his tender and perceptive early portraits of Harlem residents, large-scale color Polaroids, and a series of collaborative word and image portraits of high school students, among others. More recent projects have taken a historical turn: The Birmingham Project (2012) commemorates the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in a series of deeply affective portrait diptychs. Lately, Bey has turned to landscapes: Night Coming Tenderly, Black (2018) depicts, in deep shades of black and gray, the imagined experience of a fugitive slave moving along the Underground Railroad, marking a formal departure from the artist's earlier work but considering the same existential questions about race, history, and the possibility of bearing witness through contemporary photography. The exhibition is co-organized with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
The Image of a Woman in Soviet Russia: 1920s-1940s
New York, NY
From February 13, 2020 to March 31, 2020
Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to present The Image of a Woman in Soviet Russia: 1920s-1940s, an online exhibition that provides a window into the role of women in the newly-formed Soviet society. The Bolshevik Revolution led to widespread calls for equality between the sexes and for women to participate in political, economic, and social life with the same status and opportunities as men. The Image of a Woman in Soviet Russia includes prints that celebrate women of all ages - from a young student to Aleksandr Rodchenko's elderly mother - and from a wide range of roles and professions - from artists to athletes, and from laborers to war heroes. A mélange of portraiture, propaganda, and personal photography, the exhibition captures the awe, admiration, and conflicting emotions with which male photographers viewed the women around them, many of whose accomplishments mirrored or rivaled their own. The hopefulness of the 1920s is palpable in two prints by Alexander Grinberg, which show a dancer and an actress in moments of joy, in full command of their abilities. Meanwhile, the vigor and bravery of the new Soviet woman is portrayed in photographs of Pasha Angelina, internationally famous in her lifetime as the first female tractor driver in the USSR and seated next to Joseph Stalin at a Congress of the Young Communist League in the Kremlin; the young female pilots who defended Moscow and Leningrad during the war, one of whom, Valentina Grizodubova, set seven world records and went on to serve as the only female member of the national panel to investigate Nazi war crimes in the USSR; and Muza Malinovskaya, one of the first female parachuters in the Soviet Union, who set a world record in 1935 by jumping from a height of more than 7,000 meters. The role of the Soviet woman as muse was filled most famously by Lilya Brik, shown in this exhibition through the eyes of both Rodchenko and Abram Shterenberg in the mid-1920s; in the former's photograph, she seems the very image of a liberated woman, in modern attire and with her hands at her hips. A more novel role - the Soviet woman as an artist - is depicted here in Boris Ignatovich's portrait of Vera Mukhina, one of the most prominent sculptors in the Soviet Union, seated before her famous sculpture Worker and Kolkhoz Woman, which crowned the Soviet Pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris; as well as in Moisei Nappelbaum's vintage print of Nina Podgoretskaya, the beloved starlet of the Bolshoi Ballet. Other images of women show their subjects generalized as model of an ideal woman or as aspirational icons - a young woman lounging in an inner tube on the Black Sea, photographed by filmmaker Roman Karmen in the late 1920s; a Mongolian fisher-woman smoking a pipe; a smiling young girl selling cigarettes, photographed for the pages of the news journal Krasnaya Niva [Red Field].
 WOMEN A Century of Change
Washington, DC
From October 22, 2019 to April 01, 2020
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the U.S. constitutional amendment confirming women's right to vote, a powerful new exhibition and book from National Geographic showcases iconic women around the world. WOMEN: A CENTURY OF CHANGE illuminates, celebrates and reflects on where the world's women have been, where they are now and where they are going. The exhibition's stunning photographs, drawn from National Geographic's unparalleled image collection, span nine decades and feature a myriad of countries. Each image creates a portrait of some aspect of women's existence and shows exhibition visitors how the depiction of women has evolved since National Geographic's founding in 1888. Featuring additional behind-the-scenes stories from famed female National Geographic photographers, including Lynsey Addario, Jodi Cobb and Ami Vitale, about some of their most arresting images of women, this provocative exhibition examines women's lifestyles across world cultures, from historic images to the haunting green-eyed "Afghan girl." Complementing the exhibition is an additional section: Portraits of Power. These are 24 intimate portraits and biographies of an iconic group of activists, luminaries, politicians and celebrities who were interviewed for the book by National Geographic magazine's first female editor-in-chief, Susan Goldberg. Among those featured are Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Jane Goodall, gun control activist Emma González, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. WOMEN is a compelling, timely and richly diverse exhibition. It honors groundbreaking women everywhere who've made it possible to say, definitively, that the future is female.
This Changing Planet
Fort Collins, CO
From December 06, 2019 to April 04, 2020
As the earth's climate is changing, so do the conditions of people around the globe. The oceans, forests, ice caps, and climate refugees are an ever-changing unknown. Share your images of people, places, and creatures affected by our changing planet.
Tseng Kwong Chi: East Meets West
New York, NY
From February 13, 2020 to April 04, 2020
Yancey Richardson is pleased to present East Meets West, a selection of photographic self-portraits made between 1979 and 1987 by Tseng Kwong Chi (1950 - 1990). Combining performance and photography, political satire and personal identity, Tseng's pioneering series exemplifies the art of the eighties while anticipating the social, political and philosophical themes of the present day. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver by exiled Chinese nationalists, Tseng studied photography and art in Paris. In 1978, Tseng moved to Manhattan, becoming a fixture of New York's downtown art scene and a close friend of Keith Haring whose work and activities he documented. Soon after arriving, Tseng began the series East Meets West, photographing himself at iconic tourist locales throughout America, wearing a “Mao suit”, dark sunglasses and an enigmatic expression. Pictured at the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and other monumental sites, Tseng's persona suggests that of an austere, visiting dignitary, paying homage to sites signifying American greatness. The series was partly inspired by Richard Nixon's diplomatic trip to the People's Republic of China in 1972, where the visit consisted largely of a series of carefully staged appearances meant to generate the greatest possible visual impact, including the infamous Nixon-Mao handshake. In spite of the immutability of his Mao ensemble, Tseng responds distinctly to each locale, gazing contemplatively at the Grand Canyon, leaping raucously into the air at the Brooklyn Bridge or assuming a stiff, patriotic stance next to a rocket at Cape Canaveral. Describing himself as both an “ambiguous ambassador” and an “inquisitive traveler”, Tseng mischievously and subtly investigated core issues of outsider and identity politics. Deceased at age thirty-nine from aids-related illness, Tseng's work has been widely exhibited and published. His work is in numerous public collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and many others. In 2015, a retrospective Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing For the Camera was held at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, and the Grey Art Gallery at New York University.
Guanyu Xu: Temporarily Censored Home
New York, NY
From February 13, 2020 to April 04, 2020
Yancey Richardson is pleased to present Temporarily Censored Home, Guanyu Xu's debut exhibition with the gallery. Since 2018, Beijing-born, Chicago-based artist Guanyu Xu has secretly created photographic installations throughout his childhood home in Beijing in order to queer his parents' domestic space, transforming it into a scene of revelation, protest and reclamation. Using collected images from Western film and fashion magazines, photographs from family albums, as well as portraits of himself with other gay men, Xu enacts a deeply intimate and political performance. Xu was raised in a conservative home in a military-housing complex in Beijing, where expressions of overt non-heteronormative behavior were discouraged. With very limited exposure to the LGBTQ community in China, he understood his sexuality through Western culture, particularly film, television and fashion, which were dominated by representations of white, masculine men, under the overarching notion of the American Dream. Now living in the United States, Xu traveled back to Beijing to activate these installations in secret while his parents were away. And through the recontextualization of images and the revisiting of his own personal history, Xu provides a poignant cross-cultural examination into oppressive systems of power. Layered and visually complex, the photographs skew the architecture of the apartment, reconstructing each space into a dense mosaic of revealing and self-referential imagery. There are photographs taped to the ceiling, draped across furniture, covering windows and doorways, curled, layered and protruding at odd angles. Prints of nude men burst from luggage or are seen secreted in a drawer; cartoon decorations celebrating the Year of the Dog mix with images of the American flag and a Pacific sunset. For Xu, the project examines this intersectional experience as a foreign, Asian, gay man in the United States, while redefining his home as a queer space that finally acknowledges him. Guanyu Xu (b. 1993, Beijing) lives and works in Chicago. He earned his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019 and is the winner of the Foam Talent, LensCulture Emerging Talent and Kodak Film Photo Awards. In 2020, examples from Temporarily Censored Home will be featured in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the New Orleans Museum of Art; as well as solo exhibitions at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and The College of East Asian Studies Gallery at Wesleyan University. His work has also been featured in a number of publications including The New Yorker and W Magazine.
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