“It might be difficult to imagine a truly unintentional painting, let alone one that’s a photograph,” writes Robyn Day about John Cyr’s images of developer trays, on view at Elizabeth Houston Gallery through June 2. “But,” Day continues, Cyr’s photographs “come quite close, notching up abstract expressionism a few degrees closer to its unconscious ambitions.”
Cyr’s pictures highlight the scratches, stains and patterns of developer trays used by unknown and iconic artists including Emmet Gowin, Lillian Bassman and Barbara Mensch. The objects are photographed in a uniform style, capturing both their functionality and painterly abstractions. “This is a technique that, paradoxically, reveals the intimacy of personal artistic practice and the gravity of photographic history writ large,” says Day.
The trays included in the series weren’t chosen as a who’s who in the history of photography, but came about through connections and chance. As Day says, “You need not know the individual maker to appreciate the conceptual framework of the series or beauty of any single tray.”
by John Cyr
Elizabeth Houston Gallery
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