Abstraction Measured | Filter Photo Festival, Chicago | 24 Sept – 10 Oct, 2015

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Lady Henrietta Gilmour, Plate for Enlarging, 1900. Negative/Gelatin dry plate negative (glass plate). Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library, [image reference no. LHG-15-4]



Abstraction Measured
Filter Photo Festival
Doug Fogelson Studio
1821 West Hubbard Street Lofts
Chicago, Illinois


Artists: László Moholy-Nagy, Tina Modotti, Edward Steichen, Lady Henrietta Gilmour, Brett and Edward Weston, Luo Bonian, Mike Ware, Virna Haffer, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Kenneth Linn, Ralph Ellison, Estelle Wolf, Karl Blossfeldt, Ladislav Postupa, Jaroslav Rossler



Abstraction Measured presents a selection of moments from the history of abstract photography, a subject that challenges the popular view of photography as an objective representation of reality. These images are the results of experiments investigating how basic elements react with one another and can be read as a departure from the traditional photographic model, moving from the literal to the conceptual. Photograms make up a prominent part of this narrative; a camera-less process where objects are arranged directly onto light-sensitive paper, resulting in a deep stain of the abstracted form.

We are at a moment in time where, more than ever, we rely on images in our dealings with one another. With its mysterious playfulness, abstract photography is becoming ever more poignant. It offers a platform on which we can fabricate our own tales of what is under the lens; this is a discursive space, a landscape of poetry and dream. Here, measurement is near impossible, but in Abstraction Measured we have cast an archaeological eye. In these examples we can recognize the bonding of two foes of human existence – a spiritual yearning and a material reality. At once, these images come from the same world, but individual musings ring loud and clear.

The works chosen are not tied to a specific time or place; they span from the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the millennium. The images, which have been taken from various archives, now assemble together to spell out a short prose on abstract photography. In doing this, we hope to revive some of the ideas that these artists experimented with, and in turn reflect on the shift that occurs when experimental process and photographic image-making come together.

This exhibition was conceived as a historical counterpart to Abstract, an exhibition of contemporary abstract photography juried by Debra Klomp Ching, Co-Owner and Director of Klompching Gallery.

Curated by Ashley Lumb, Catherine Troiano, and Imogen Prus