Our Tuesday’s Objet series (pronounced “OB-JAY” from the French word for “object”) intends to highlight pieces on display outside the physical confines of our gallery spaces, to draw attention to the art that surrounds us on a daily basis.
Guess what, guys?! It’s Tuesday!! Today’s objet, or, more appropriately, objets, live on the second floor of Mart’s Hall. They are a selection of photographs by Ralph Gibson, from his “Tropical Drift” series.
Ralph Gibson was born in 1939 in Los Angeles, California. He served as a Photographer’s Mate in the U.S. Navy, and later studied at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1960-1962. He worked as an assistant to photographic bigwigs Dorothea Lange (1961-62) and Robert Frank (1967-68). In 1969 he moved to New York and formed Lustrum Press, publishing his work in book format. His first show, Quadrants, was exhibited in 1976 by the gallery Castelli Graphics.
In an interview with Popular Photography in the early 1980s, Gibson outlined four core components of his work: structure, tension, form, and proportion. In totality, they refer to how he builds his compositions. There is a sense of extreme editing in his work. He strives for a meticulously balanced push-and-pull between each part of the image, and between those parts and the image as a whole. Furthermore, he is interested in bringing the surface forward, in truncating the “imaginary window in space” that photography so naturally portrays.
You can see the intersection of these homogenous elements in the Tropical Drift series. Look at the framing of each image, for example, his compositional precision and stress on the two-dimensionality of the picture plane. Particularly in the Untitled works (a ubiquitous moniker of the series) which depict a braided palm frond on the sand, or the bow of a boat: they are punctuated, articulated, cut-off close-ups that shift the subject depicted from a specific object to an abstract architectural form. Even the human figures in these photographs become part and parcel to an overarching interplay of flat geometric elements, a study of positive and negative space. This series seems as preoccupied with the sensual tactility of form and color, as it is with capturing an island paradise.
This series will be up through the winter, so if you need a respite from the looming chill, head up to Mart’s Hall!
Wanna learn more about Ralph?