Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Head #22, 2001, chromogenic print
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Charina Endowment Fund
© Philip-Lorca diCorcia
April 22 – August 5, 2012
Source: National Gallery of Art, Washington
Since the invention of small hand-held cameras and faster films in the late 19th century, photographers have recorded everyday life in the urban environment. Mining the citys rich potential, they have explored its varied subject matter—people, architecture, and modes of transportation—to celebrate the cacophony and diversity of modern life, as well as its rapid pace.
The photographers represented in this exhibition have creatively pursued this genre by setting rigid parameters on how they made their works. Like children playing the game "I Spy" by looking through the narrow frame of a car window, these photographers restricted the ways they made their pictures as a means of selecting and ordering the chaos of the city. Evans hid the camera from the unsuspecting public and photographed without even looking through the lens, Frank photographed only what could be seen from the windows of a bus moving through the city, and diCorcia and Streuli placed their cameras in single spots to capture photographs of random passersby. But all these photographs and videos court chance and serendipity, and all these artists view the street as a perpetually fascinating spectacle.
Arranged both chronologically and monographically, I Spy: Photography and the Theater of the Street, 1938–2010 explores these ideas through the presentation of nearly 90 works, including a video and a digital still sequence. Evans, Callahan, and Frank embarked on their projects as a challenge to create images in a fundamentally different manner than they previously had; diCorcia and Streuli incorporate such devices into their regular practice. All the works address questions of voyeurism, surveillance, and privacy.
"The Gallery is pleased to continue its long tradition of exhibitions devoted to the innovative ways in which photographers have captured and explored the urban environment," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art.