Kathy Ryan is genuinely loved and respected in the greater photo community. In person she is modest and soft spoken, yet one may imagine that her head fairly explodes with ideas and possibilities, making bold marriages of project and artist being madly ingenious week after week. When she reports that she is “slammed” at work, she isn’t actually complaining.
But that unique combination of cool and heat make for remarkable picture making of her own.
This legendary and longtime director of photography at the The New York Times Magazine is making her gallery debut as an artist in her own right with “Office Romance” at Howard Greenberg Gallery from May 5 – June 18, 2016. These are square format images Ryan began shooting with her I-Phone in 2012 in the Times building and then posting on Instagram, where she currently has almost 100,000 followers.
The work is aphoristic: direct, tidy, perfect. They are exquisite boxes without an ounce of excess, with blacks and whites and grays, alone or sometimes with vibrant pulses of oranges and reds. She dances with dots and stripes, vectors of raking light or layers of shadow. There are corners and table tops and people, anonymous in silhouette or obscured by shade or whatever.
A career of looking and commissioning and editing photographs by others has undoubtedly had its impact. One can imagine possible influences like New York photographers Louis Faurer, Lisette Model, and William Klein and Europeans like Andre Kertesz, Luigi Ghirri, and Joseph Sudek, a mix of the conscious and unconscious.
It would be illuminating to find out how she thinks this keen eye has evolved as an editor and as an artist making her own images. The architect Renzo Piano quote about her work from the introduction to “Office Romance” (Aperture 2014), that it is “all about the light, and the vibration of light and shadow” says a great deal however.