William Gedney—Christopher Wool: Into the Night
June 27—October 3, 2004
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center presents an exhibition that unites a group of William Gedney's rarely seen night photographs and over a hundred photographs from Christopher Wool's series East Broadway Breakdown, which are being exhibited in New York City for the first time. Gedney's photographs, all black and white, and all shot at night, were made on cross-country trips between 1965 and 1975. With their dreamlike quietude and mystery, they hold a palpable sense of absence and longing. Gedney's work has often been compared to Edward Hopper's paintings: their shared sensibility is most clearly evident in these night photographs. People do not appear in any of the photographs. Instead, Gedney, restless, wandering along empty streets with his camera, is the solitary, unseen figure. When asked about these photographs, John Szarkowski commented, "Photography is about what you can see—this is what you can't see."
Although Christopher Wool is best known as a painter, he has amassed a large body of black-and-white photographs taken at night in the streets between the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Originally begun in the mid-1990s, the project was resumed and completed in 2002. With a noirish, graphic quality, the photographs recall the work of other artists who are also drawn to the nocturnal world such as Weegee and Daido Moriyama. Larry Clark described the images in this series as things that you see all the time, but you've never seen photographed. East Broadway Breakdown, a book reproducing all 160 photographs, has recently been issued by Holzwarth Publications.
This exhibition is organized by P.S.1 Curatorial Advisor Bob Nickas.
William Gedney (1933-1989) was the subject of a retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2000. A monograph, What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney (Lyndhurst/Norton), was also published in 2000.