Friday, March 02, 2007

Henry Wessel at SFMOMA

_______San Francisco, 1973________

Note: This exhibition will close on 4/22/07.

SFMOMA has a good exhibit of work by Bay Area photographer Henry Wessel (born 1942). After I saw the show, the word that came to mind was “laconic.” Not many Americans are laconic anymore. Chattering seems to be the new national mission. Wessel’s pictures provide an escape from the din.

Wessel captures everyday places and people, a type of visual inventory that looms large in American art photography. Sometimes it can feel like a worn-out category. But Wessel has managed to capture a good many images that sing quietly in their plainness. His best pictures tend to be those with people in them, as he has a gift for capturing body language. There is an iconic dimension to his people, but without the reductionism that often occurs in photojournalism.

The examples included here are gelatin silver prints: the one at the top is from the Robert Mann Gallery website, and the two below are from the Charles Cowles Gallery website.

Southern California, 1985

Santa Monica, 1989

No comments: