Good to see Quentin Bajac while in New York. His first exhibition for MOMA, on artist’s studios, has some gems in it that include a wonderful pair of Sudek’s of the artist’s back yard. But it demonstrates once again how difficult it is to present “straight” vintage photographs alongside contemporary conceptual art which uses photography as a tool.
Also at MOMA is an exceptional Jasper Johns exhibition of new works, Regrets. The series is based on a battered John Deakin photograph of Lucian Freud that once belonged to Francis Bacon. Elegantly subversive, a photograph of the great realist is rendered abstract by mirroring and the austerity of Freud is replaced by patterning and decoration. Immediacy and directness is replaced by embellishment and ambiguity. A picture about absence as well as presence, the black background against which the photograph was photographed becomes an assertive part of the composition.
Also at Moma it was incongruous but fascinating to bump into one of Britain’s greatest photographers, Jem Southam, in the Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New exhibition. I have an enormous admiration for Jem’s work and will remember our conversation for a long time.