Sunday, September 07, 2008

John Pfahl's Altered Landscapes

Australian Pines, Fort DeSoto, Florida, 1977 © John Pfahl
Saturday I toured a number of current exhibitions in Chelsea and was lucky to catch the final day of When Color Was New: Vintage Photographs From Around the 1970s at Julie Saul Gallery. The show featured quite a few iconic images from Sternfeld, Goldin and Eggleston, but the work of John Pfahl really stood out. I had forgotten how much I loved John Pfahl's Altered Landscape series.

Triangle, Bermuda, 1975 © John Pfahl
John made this series in the 1970s, but the images feel very contemporary because this style of photography is in vogue with the new wave of snapshot youth. But where many young photographers only go as deep as the ironic juxtaposition of an object in an environment, John's interventions manage to weave the primal simplicity of the Lascaux drawings with a playful complexity that reveals an intelligence very much of this time.

Wave, Lave, Lace, Pescadero Beach, California, 1978 © John Pfahl
I love the way these photos play with space. John has created images that at once seem flat and two dimensional and then suddenly reveal a depth that is expansive as the ocean itself. Truly ahead of its time.

Moonrise over Pie Pan, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, 1977 © John Pfahl
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