Thursday, August 6, 2009


After a month of construction on my new space, I was itching to put something on the walls, and while things are pretty slow in Chelsea, I thought I might as well put together some kind of theme show. I had been thinking about how few pictures (as opposed to how many) could make a show and had been mulling over the title "Seven Wonders" which appealed to me because seven seemed the low number and wonder was a quality I particularly enjoy in photography. In the end though, seven relatively small pictures seemed too few and I ended up with ten and the title "Elements of Wonder". Not quite as catchy, I know.

Anyway, the show is up through August 21, Tuesday to Friday if you're around. And this is what I had to say about it in our press release:

Danziger Projects summer show - "Elements of Wonder" – takes as its central theme how the element of wonder so often manifests itself in photography.

Whether in Julia Margaret Cameron's constructed pictures, using her maid and friends' children as her subjects, or in Sze Tsung Leong's technical tour de force view of the Parisian skyline, the images in this show do more than just record a fact - they stop to marvel at what they see or create.

In a selection of ten images spanning over 130 years, the photographs in the show each demonstrate a different kind of wonder. There is Adam Fuss's re-invention of the photogram, Edward Curtis' prefiguring of Sugimoto's "Horizons", and Mario Giacomelli's frozen moment of kinetic energy.

Annie Leibovitz tackles wonder straight on with an image from her 2003 fashion shoot re-imagining Alice in Wonderland, while the wonder of Seydou Keita lies not only in his unconscious echo of August Sander's famous photograph of three farmers, but in the fact that such a marvelous photographer was unknown outside of his own country of Mali until near the end of his life.

In classic images such as Edward Weston's photograph of his wife, Charis, nude on the White Sands of California or the Bechers' picture of a New York water tower, we can appreciate the wonder of these photographic icons. And lastly, Abe Morell ties things up with his inventive connection of the wonder of the camera obscura to the wonder of photography.

And the ten pictures:

Julia Margaret Cameron

Edward Curtis

Edward Weston

Seydou Keita

Mario Giacomelli

The Bechers

Annie Leibovitz

Adam Fuss

Abelardo Morell

Sze Tsung Leong


Anonymous said...


Letterpress said...

Wow, all your commentors are on vacation as well, it seems. I've always loved the Alice in Wonderland shot by Leibovitz, but I have no idea where I've seen it before this viewing. The idea of wonders is intriguing. One of my favorite quips is a snippet of a line from an old verse: "Earth's crammed with Heaven." Seeing your show of wonders reminds us of many kinds of wonders, if we only stop to think about them, to see them.

Robert Morat said...

James, what a wonderful show and the new space looks great too! So Chelsea may be slow right now - but it still is the place to see the best photography shows! Very muchh looking forward to my next trip to NY, kind regards from Hamburg, Robert Morat

Christopher Paquette said...

I'm a firm believer in "less is more" and you have nailed it with this exhibit. I really love the way the Fuss image seems to be barely there in the top photo...

Difficult for me to get to NY during the week. I'll have to wait to visit on a weekend in the Fall...

Unknown said...

I'm sure this isn't news to you, but the theme of the recent FOAM magazine, from Amsterdam, is "Wonder" as well!

I like the idea of this diverse, thoughtful summer show. A lot of these summer group shows and permanent collection shows are getting BORING! Nice work.