Introduction by Jeffrey Fraenkel. Essay by Robert Adams.
Fraenkel Gallery, , 2009. Hardcover with printed dustjacket. 120 pp., 18 color and 33 duotone illustrations, 10-1/2x10-1/4".
Edward Hopper & Company Introduction by Jeffrey Fraenkel. Essay by Robert Adams. Published by Fraenkel Gallery, 2009.
Edward Hopper & Company is a beautiful book: elegant and restrained, intelligent as the exhibition it records. The exhibit, now closed, was a treat for the eye and the mind. If exhibitions can be said to have an aura, this one did, if a curious one. The combination of the photographers-- Arbus, Frank, Friedlander, Eggleston, Callahan, Shore and R. Adams-- along with a few Hopper paintings, watercolors, and drawings was melancholy on its face. The selection of photographs was thematic, yet almost never didactic (in spite of the concept). It was an open-ended choice and sequence which established authorship, going easy on the authority, leaving breathing room for the viewer.
One might quibble over whether this is a book or a catalogue, but why bother: it is both, and can be appreciated as either. I choose to see it a book. A book of photographs to be seen as one might read a book of poetry. It can be followed in its own line of thought, or picked up, opened at random and appreciated for a few pages, a few images at a time. There is a generous respect for the viewer's intelligence.
Following a blank page, the book opens with a Stephen Shore storefront photo (from Uncommon Places, 1973). The Shore is followed by Evans, Frank, Adams, and Arbus with a Hopper self-portrait (oil on canvas), stating the theme before the title page.
The body of the book opens with a Hopper watercolor, "Wellfleet Road" and is followed by Friedlander's "Kentucky, 1977," depicting a gravel covered, unmarked country road meandering off into the horizon. Though this photograph echoes the structure of the Hopper, it also raises a recurring question underlying the theme. The feeling of the Friedlander is created by the context of placement in the book and within the show's concept. When this photograph is seen as one of many Friedlanders, its meaning changes. This kind of analysis can be applied at other points in the sequence.
Robert Adams's photographs echo and reflect Hopper more strongly than any other photographer in this collection. Adams's brief essay states this with his restrained argument for the larger idea. Curator Jeffrey Fraenkel's introduction recounts the fifteen-year gestation between idea and execution.
Richard Gordon is a photographer who lives in California. His photographs and artist's books are in museum and library special collections from sea to shining see. Four prints from his recently completed book project, American Surveillance, will be on display, along with the work of five photographers, in "Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera" which opens at the Tate Modern in late May 2009 and at SFMOMA in October 2009.