“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.” (Henri Cartier –Bresson)
The cliché usually states that a picture paints a thousand words but there is more to conveying what’s beyond words in a single photograph. One of the pioneers of photographing modern life and what shapes our vision of architecture, Ezra Stoller (American, 1915-2004), had an opening last January 24thwhich featured selected images of rarely seen black and white photos. AF came to Yossi Milo Gallery and be entranced by viewing a vanished time of mid-century America in Beyond Architecture.
Selected from over 50,000 images from the Stoller archive, the exhibit captured America at its industrial zenith of workers in factories, modern design and the age of technology where the working class was an essential fabric that vitally meshed into the economic might of the country. A lot of the interior shots, people in the production line, focus on architectural details, empty floors/interiors, and a slice of life that hearkens to simpler times were captured in razor sharp detail and froze into its frame indelible moments. A friend who is an art consultant that came to the show stated that photography as a medium is hardest to convince a collector to acquire as the medium itself is cold. It takes a skillful artist to make a black and white photo more nuanced, vital, and pulsing with dynamic energy. Stoller from early on focused his lens of capturing the right moment or elements into his camera. The pictures are not cold records of history but a clear window to a beautiful memory. If you seek color, there were some selected images in that genre as well. It is vibrant and brilliant in its presentation.
Consulting with my AF lens auteur, he said that these were done in long exposure to get the tones and detail precisely. I would not know the technical merits of such methods but I can see upon closer observation the areas where light diffuses, a frozen movement, the crisp details of rooms, a blurred streak of what could have been a moving car, the silent sentry of an empty space, shadows that fall just in the right angles and other finer details the eye captures.
Ezra Stoller took pictures with a sense of romanticism but trained towards modernism. This is a rare window into a past long gone. It is a testament to lost moments with lasting beauty beyond the structures since he breathed life into them with his unique skill and technique. Take the time to catch this show before it is gone.
Ezra Stoller: Beyond Architecture / On View: January 24 – March 2, 2013
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (10 am – 6 pm)
Yossi Milo Gallery. 245 Tenth Avenue. New York, NY 10001
art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
art image from Yossi Milo Gallery courtesy of the artist’s estate
event photography by: Max Noy