View Full Version : Architectural photos at Frank Gehry exhibit in the Guggenheim Museum, New York
David A. Goldfarb
I just went to the Frank Gehry exhibit at the Guggenheim today, and was hoping t o see, along with the models and projects some really great architectural photog raphy (which is largely a LF domain, so I think it is relevant here), given the venue, the status of the architect, and the sense that the show is somewhat of a sales pitch on the part of the museum for the new branch of the Guggenheim they want to build downtown off the South Street Seaport.
I'm sure that many of the photographs were originally quite good, but they were all digitized, the scans were often fuzzy (really--nothing in focus, and that in cludes some quite small prints), and most seemed to be printed as low-contrast, grainy inkjets. They would have been better off, most likely, just cutting the photographs out of the catalogue and pasting them up. If I were a photographer with a credit in the show, I would be irritated. The exhibit is very much worth seeing, but what a tremendous waste of a lot of expensive LF images.
Interesting...I didn't see that show, but last week I went to the Venturi/Scott Brown show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Most of the projects included a model, drawings, and color photographs. Although some of the photographs were of average quality, I was struck by how much better I could visualize the actual sites by looking at the photographs rather than the models. Perhaps that is because although we see three-dimensionally, we don't usually see many sides of the building at once, the way you can looking down at a model. Also I've always worked in two dimensions myself... no doubt architects and sculptors would experience such exhibitions differently.
I'm familiar this exhibit. Typically, Gehry uses some of the best architectural photographers available. I don't have any of his monographs in front of me but I believe he frequently uses ESTO (LA) and Timothy Hursley out of Arkansas. These images are used for the most part in publications and monographs. His exhibits on the other hand are more presentations of his ideas and it is very au-current (sp?) to use rougher less refined images to take the finality and refinement out of a project/design/model to bring the ideas of that thing to the forefront. Often in architecture it is the process that is more important than a single building, with the process unifying a series of projects. As for Venturi Scott Brown, their work is better reflected by focusing on the project itself. It is not surprising that the photographs presented in their exhibit would be immaculate.
I hope that helps a little. A lot of work went into creating the fuzzy rough images. Also I wouldn't be surprised if Gehry's staff shot quite a few of the images.
I'm a contributor to that exhibit and unfortunately I won't be able to see it in NYC. An yes, I'm disappointed that the quality of the repros is not the best.
When turning over images for use in some else's media, there's very little control I can exercise over how well those images are reproduced. Maybe when I become world-famous, ha ha. Often, most of my effort is spent in negotiating the use fee, and by then I'm very tired.
If you'd like to see some other Weisman images that didn't make it into the show (I'm assuming my images made the final cut) check out my website. www.donwongphoto.com
David A. Goldfarb
The "process" images were clearly identified, and I'm not complaining about those. They are interesting in their own right.
There are images of finished buildings, however, from ESTO and various U.S. and European architectural photographers, and it just looks like they did it on the cheap, scanning the prints on a flatbed so that they could easily manipulate them for layout purposes and outputting on inkjet because it is convenient. They're not "fuzzy" enough to look intentionally fuzzy.
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