Art and Photography
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPostmodernismPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlaySame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts

Related Topics
Young PhotographerReview - Young Photographer
by Amy Adler
Twin Palms, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Dec 22nd 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 51)

Young Photographer contains 26 four-color plates by artist Amy Adler.  According to the UCLA Hammer Museum description of her series of pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio, she took photographs of him in her apartment, then made many pastel drawings of the photographs, and then photographed some of the drawings.  She destroyed the original negatives and drawings, which is especially odd when considering that they took months to do.  For other photographs in the book, she hired models or used photographs in magazines.  The picture titled "Fox," on the cover of her book, looks like an out-of-focus Jodie Foster.   The first series inside the book is "Young Photographer," which shows a boyish child holding pointing a camera in various poses.  The first image of the series is in color, then the following ones are in black and white, with a change in the last image in the series, which is in color, where the figure looks slightly older and more feminine, although sharing enough features to probably be the same person.  The DiCaprio series shows headshots of the actor looking vigorous and relaxed.  The next series, "Centerfold," shows a young woman lounging around wearing just a checkered shirt.  Then "Unknown" shows a woman striking various poses in what the accompanying essay explains is Adler's apartment.  Finally, at the very end of the book, the single piece "A Woman of No Importance" shows a woman holding her head on her chin, looking a little dejected or bored.  This is a perplexing collection of images.

The publisher's website says her "photographs examine notions of authorship by exploring the relationships between artist, subject, and viewer."  The short essay in the book by Cay Sophie Rabinowitz starts out with the portentous statement that

Amy Adler's enactment of identity and anonymity provides an active consideration of the conceptual matters that dominate her work.  Her capturing and relinquishing of control inspires a mirroring evaluation of her process.  Adler's uniquely constructed oeuvre perpetually discloses and disguises a dynamic that is bound by the alternative forces of control and vulnerability.

A short piece on the DiCaprio series on the UCLA Hammer Museum website says that Adler has long been interested "in the psychological and cultural mediation of identity through mass media images."  All of this sophisticated language stands in contrast to the rather pleasing simplicity of the images, many of which look like they could be used to illustrate a children's book.  The large size of the book, 14"x17" suggests that it is important to Adler that one be struck by the visual qualities in an almost visceral way; in a photograph of the DiCaprio exhibition, it looks like the hung photographs are considerably larger, being a few feet high.  This should lead us to question whether this work is really so conceptual as the above interpretations suggest.  Adler herself writes nothing in her book, although of course she is probably sympathetic with the ideas in the accompanying essay by Rabinowitz.  It is important to note that she has chosen not to include a statement her work in the book, and she has not become an academic social psychologist or philosopher.  To interpret her work as simply propounding a thesis about identity has to be largely to misunderstand it or to condemn it to obvious failure.  Judging from her working methods and her subjects, it is plausible that Adler is indeed exploring issues to do with the visual construction of identity, but she can't be doing it in an analytic way. 

Looking at Adler's pictures, their most striking feature is the excellent job she does of drawing human hair with pastels.  It feels like she has captured every strand on the young photographer's head, and it looks so thick and healthy, it needs to be tousled.  DiCaprio's hair is so luscious you want to rub your face in it.  She is also very good with clothes, capturing folds of cloth with photographic precision.  She is less successful with skin, having to resort to rather clumsy cross-hatching that takes away its sensuality and softness.  (Of course, this may all be part of the cunning artist's master plan.)  Also striking is that most of the images have solid color backgrounds.  The boy in young photographer stands out against black, while the woman in  "Centerfold" is against a hot red-orange, and the woman in "A Woman of No Importance" is all in a bluish purple.  The colors are major elements of the compositions, affecting mood and making them unusual.  The background has its own texture, and has clearly been done very carefully in pastels too.  This approach foregrounds the human subject and takes him or her out of context, in way that regular photography can almost never do. 

The commentators on Adler make a lot of her methods, yet this book says very little about them.  Many photography books say what camera the photographer used, what size the exhibited images were, what kind of photographic paper was used, what paper was used, and other details of construction.  Adler gives no such information.  Her images are in themselves rather bland and enigmatic -- very different from the works of Cindy Sherman and especially Barbara Kruger, for example, who leave the viewer in no doubt that their themes are gender and identity.  It seems plausible that Adler is also interested in gender and youth, but it is hard to say.  Ultimately, Adler's pictures resist any simple or obvious interpretation.  They are interesting and pleasing both conceptually and aesthetically, but they are not remarkable.  They don't grip the viewer and there's nothing particular radical about the ideas they raise.  Maybe Adler is being too subtle, or is not helping her audience enough in interpreting her goals.  She provokes curiosity and maybe there is enough here to make one want to see what she does next, but it is hard to be enthusiastic about these works. 

 

Links:

·        Twin Palm Publishers

·        UCLA Hammer Museum Amy Adler exhibit

 

© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7900 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716