Robert Henecken, Multiple Solution Puzzle, 1965. 16, 2″ square gelatin silver prints on wood with wood base, 11.25 x 11.25 x 1; each square is 2 x 2 inches; overall dimensions variable. Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles; photo by Robert Wedemeyer.
The Cherry and Martin gallery in Culver City is re-creating the show, Photography Into Sculpture, as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. This was a ground breaking show originally featured in 1970 that Peter Bunnell curated while at the MOMA in New York. Photography Into Sculpture, followed shortly after Bunnell’s previous show at the MOMA, Photography as Printmaking where he definitely established his stake in the artists showing their “hand” in the work.
The re-creation of the show features most of the original artists, their works, as well as numerous works that were relevant for the time period. With artists Dale Quarterman, Robert Heinecken, Douglas Prince, Ellen Brooks, Robert Brown, Carl Cheng, Darryl Curran, Jack Dale, Michael de Courcy, Karl Folsom, Andre Haluska, Richard Jackson, Jerry McMillan, Be a Nettles, Ed O’ Connell, James Pennuto, Joe Pirone, Charles Roitz, Leslie Snyder, Micahel Stone, Ted Victoria, Robert Watts, and Lynton Welles transforming the two-dimensional medium of photography into three-dimensional sculpture. Conventional wisdom has it that as a medium, photography was historically seen as documentation; what you saw in a photograph or a newspaper was the truth. A photograph was a document of an event or moment frozen in time as it was captured in real life, now the artists in this show could trump this notion and take the medium of photography beyond representation, documentation and reportage.
Dale Quarterman, Marvella (front), 1969. Photographs, Styrofoam, wood base. 19 x 8/5 x 3 inches. Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles; photo by Robert Wedemeyer.
As I walked into the gallery, my first impression of the show was that I had stepped back in time. Now I don’t mean this in a negative connotation. I mean that you get a sense that this work was made in the late 60’s or 70’s. Dale Quarterman’s piece, Marvella, is a woman in thick, tweed trousers and wearing a shiny, patent leather jacket, or Lynton Welle’s human-scaled plush doll of a man wearing polyester pants and an ill fitted shirt, the artwork colored by hand with oil paints. There was also a playful sense of exploration and humor in many of the pieces as well. A perfect example is Jerry McMillan’s, paper bag, a crumpled paper bag that was actually a photograph of a paper bag, fusing photo and form in this simple but effective piece. Of the great artists in the exhibition, Robert Heinecken has a special place in it with, multiple solution puzzle, comprised of sixteen tiny photographs of abstract shapes that resemble female body parts,which leaves the viewer to recreate and interpret the piece as their own. This was indeed a seminal exhibition that challenged the notion of what photography could be and led to many great accomplishments in the medium and encouraged many artists to embrace photography.
Dale Quarterman, Marvella (back), 1969. Photographs, Styrofoam, wood base. 19 x 8/5 x 3 inches. Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles; photo by Robert Wedemeyer.
I feel lucky to have seen this show; while growing up in the punk scene I missed many seminal shows by bands like Bad Brains at the 9:30 club in D.C. or Black Flag at the Stardust Ballroom on Sunset. I can now sleep soundly knowing that I caught Photography Into Sculpture play at the Cherry and Martin gallery in Culver City.
Richard Jackson, Negative Numbers, 1970-2011. Film, light, electric cord, porcelain, wood stand. 44.5 x 48.5 x 14 inches, courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles; photo by Robert Wedemeyer.