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June 24, 2004

Those '70s Photographers, Turning 50, and Poetic (Non) Polaroids

Interesting exhibition that's opened recently at the Howard Greenberg Gallery, "Six From the Seventies", featuring the work of mostly lesser-known but influential photographers from the 1970s -- Michael Bishop, Frank Gohlke, William Larson, Michael Martone, Joel Meyerowitz and Bea Nettles -- and the work they did that anticipated the postmodern photography trends of the 1980s and 90s. (Of this group, only Meyerowitz is very well-known, and even then mainly for his Cape Light and other work that came after the photographs in this exhibition).

The gallery website has a 53 image slideshow (click on "Exhibits" and "Current") that's well worth checking out to get a sampling of the diverse styles and viewpoints of a very interesting group of photographers. William Lawson's fascinating fax transmission composites look like avant-garde work from the early part of the century, while Bea Nettles' Kwik Print collages, as the gallery press release points out, presages the fascination with found and recycled imagery in the 1980s. Michael Bishop has experimental, moody color work that predates the explosion of experimental color C-prints for landscapes and staged scenes the last twenty years.


Michael Bishop image, 1979


Cornered Birds, Bea Nettles image

I first saw Michael Martone's work at the Ricco Maresca Gallery website and found him interesting but tough to pin down, and the personal, more journalistic entries in the "Six From the Seventies" exhibition make him seem even more versatile and more mysterious...I guess some artists weren't meant to be figured out easily, but he is certainly interesting and I'll continue to monitor his work as more of it gets released to galleries. In the meantime, his work at Ricco Marresca and at the Greenberg is certainly worth a look. (UPDATE: Michael kindly sent me a note to let me know he's been working steadily since 1956, and continues on personal photographic work, as well as contributions to major publications such as the New Yorker)


"Newlyweds--Self Portrait" Michael Martone image

Bea Nettles is one of the few photographers from the exhibition with an active web presence beyond her gallery representation. None of the work in the Greenberg exhibition appears to be on her website, though she continues to sell her books and pursue some interesting projects. Most notable is "Turning 50", a photoessay that makes heavy use of single images and triptychs in a way that's thoughtful about questions of aging and self.

Finally, a quick plug for "66 Polaroids That Never Existed", a funny and highly creative use of collage and the Polaroid aesthetic, which pokes affectionate fun at Polaroids and art in general. Great stuff. (link courtesy of gmtplus9)

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The dealers are out in the Hamptons and the group shows are popping up. Ah, summer.

Frank Gohlke reminds me of Robert Adams, another 70s-80s photographer, in terms of subject matter and overall tone - pale, gray, deserted suburbia. Really plays on the stereotype and 70s rejection of 50s utopia.

Another group show I'm intersted in seeing is Pool Party at Yossi Milo gallery. No images from the show on their site, though, so I'll probably write about in a week or two when I have the chance to visit, if you don't beat me to it. ;-)

Posted by: Todd W. at Jun 25, 2004 4:01:11 PM

good stuff.

Posted by: happyier at Jul 26, 2004 1:05:38 AM

Hi there - thank you very much for covering the exhibition and putting some thought into the intent of the exhibition. I just read your recent correction and would like to add that ALL of the photographers included are still very much alive and working. Frank Gohlke will be the subject of two upcoming retrospectives, one at MoMA/NY of his Mt. St. Helens work in early 2005 I believe, and a retrospective generated by the Amon Carter Museum in Dallas/Fort Worth. Will Larson has continued to produce work although he rarely shows and the same is true of Bea Nettles and Michael Bishop, although Bea has actually been pretty active in getting her work out there still.
Thanks again.

Posted by: Rick Wester at Jul 31, 2004 12:38:22 PM

Looking for michael bishop. Went to school with him at foothill.Last time I heard about him he had a mishap with a parking meter.

Posted by: mike piper at Jul 13, 2005 12:44:42 PM

Mike Bishop, remember me? Remember Photo Annex and Marv White in Palo Alto? E-mail me.

Jim Brick jim@brick.org

Posted by: Jim Brick at Aug 25, 2005 7:48:07 PM

Where is Michael Bishop these days? Is he still active? I knew him in the early to mid 70's, recently came across a number of things he sent me over the years...

Posted by: Posy Bass at Oct 10, 2008 11:16:39 AM

Another question... I did a lot with kwik-printing in the 1970's, has this product disappeared all together?

Posted by: Posy Bass at Oct 10, 2008 11:19:23 AM

Hi Posy Bass. I am right here and yes I remember. Get back to me at...


Posted by: Michael Bishop at Apr 20, 2009 4:53:13 PM

My 70's Street Photography... www.fullframeimages.com

Posted by: Robert M Johnson at May 6, 2010 12:04:51 PM