Notable New Art Books of 2012
Editor’s Note: We will be adding to this post in the coming days. But to augment your list, here’s a beginning.
Sharon Core: Early American
The flesh of the nectarine, glossy leaves affirming the fruit’s relationship to the tree that bore it, is just going overripe at a seam. Its readiness prefigured in an abalone-handled knife balanced on a plate that has an embossed blue rim.
The background, steel-case gray wall, drives home the sense of this work (which is a photograph) as painting; ineluctably; in the tradition of; from Cezanne’s apples to Giorgio Morandi’s silent silhouetted bottles. Sharon Core re-creates through a lens, with filtered precision and that painterly blush, the work of artist Raphaelle Peale who painted more than 100 still-lifes in a dozen years after 1812. The essayist, Brian Sholis, asserts in the introduction to Sharon Core; Early American (Santa Fe: Radius Books, 2012) that at times a “reverse ventriloquism” ensues, as Core photographs the brown spots on the yellow apple, the wilt of the datura flower, “wondrous strange” and a step past Peale’s own laboratory of invented. The work lends to book reproduction (the artist exhibits her photographs at James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe), as a hearkening to something pure in the room, changing to polluted, beyond the airbrush or the calamity. It’s a book that is interesting and never arch and made me see something I hadn’t seen before. (For ordering information: Radius Books dot org.)
Terry Evans: Prairie Stories
A photograph of a person with dust blown into the lines of his face has the habit of instantly evoking Richard Avedon out west among drifters. But what happens often in the fetishization of portraiture is that it gets pulled out of its state, whether that’s a place or a mood. In Terry Evans’ Prairie Stories the mood of intimacy happens in a first shot of a boy with a pet rat on his neck (maybe we saw him grown to man before, but hard to tell yet).
We know from the frontispiece the place; this is one of seven photo-stories from Matfield Green, Kansas. Where that is, appears on the cover framed between prairie grasses, as an empty wending road between landforms, with the map manipulated by the camera slightly, as if the photographer sat on a scaffolding or bridge. Prairie Stories by Terry Evans (Santa Fe: Radius Books, 2012), gives up images that can appear hard to believe, such that distances are shortened and equivalences offered up beween human skin-animal hide-endurance. You get shape but not any particular insertion of meaning. (Photos were taken 1990-2010.) The “stories” suggest (and then argue the point) that nostalgia is an American trope. Seek yourself in these unknown others inside their straight white houses.
I love the surface quality of Terry Evans’ work, and the sense that you don’t see change, at once; you don’t notice it happening unless you train your eye and that of the viewer for omniscience, or of a story we’ll hear that we have no part in, and even maybe, no business looking into, really.