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Burn It In

November 29, 2022 – February 28, 2023

W. Eugene Smith  Mad Eyes, Haiti, 1959 Gelatin silver print; printed 1977 16 x 20 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Mad Eyes, Haiti, 1959
Gelatin silver print; printed 1977
16 x 20 inches

Roy Decarava  Lefty Simms, NY, 1955 Gelatin silver print; printed 1983 14 x 11 inches

Roy DeCarava

Lefty Simms, NY, 1955
Gelatin silver print; printed 1983
14 x 11 inches

Roy Decarava  Man in Window, Brooklyn, 1978 Photogravure; printed 1991

Roy DeCarava

Man in Window, Brooklyn, 1978
Photogravure; printed 1991

 

Roy Decarava  Dancers, NY, 1956 Gelatin silver print; printed 1981 14 x 11 inches

Roy DeCarava

Dancers, NY, 1956
Gelatin silver print; printed 1981
14 x 11 inches

W. Eugene Smith  Guardia Civil, Spain, 1950 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1950 16 x 20 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Guardia Civil, Spain, 1950
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1950
16 x 20 inches

 

W. Eugene Smith  Spanish Wake, 1951 Gelatin silver print; printed later 8 7/8 x 13 1/4 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Spanish Wake, 1951
Gelatin silver print; printed later
8 7/8 x 13 1/4 inches

 

W. Eugene Smith  Dance of the Flaming Coke, from the Pittsburgh series, 1955 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1970 16 x 20 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Dance of the Flaming Coke, from the Pittsburgh series, 1955
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1970
16 x 20 inches

 

W. Eugene Smith  Pittsburgh, c.1955 Gelatin silver print; printed c. 1955 20 x 16 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Pittsburgh, c.1955
Gelatin silver print; printed c. 1955
20 x 16 inches

W. Eugene Smith  A Man of Mercy, 1954 Gelatin silver print; printed c. 1954 10 x 13 1/4 inches

W. Eugene Smith

A Man of Mercy, 1954
Gelatin silver print; printed c. 1954
10 x 13 1/4 inches

W. Eugene Smith  Haiti, 1958-59 Gelatin silver print; printed c. 1958 - 59 20 x 16 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Haiti, 1958-59
Gelatin silver print; printed c. 1958 - 59
20 x 16 inches
 

W. Eugene Smith  Haiti, c.1958 Gelatin silver print; printed 1970s 11 x 14 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Haiti, c.1958
Gelatin silver print; printed 1970s
11 x 14 inches

W. Eugene Smith  Juanita, 1953 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1953 7 x 13 7/8 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Juanita, 1953
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1953
7 x 13 7/8 inches

W. Eugene Smith  Silhouette of Patient in Trance, Haiti, 1958-59 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1958-59 9 1/4 x 13 5/8 inches

W. Eugene Smith

Silhouette of Patient in Trance, Haiti, 1958-59
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1958-59
9 1/4 x 13 5/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker  58 FI-20, Chicago, 1958 Gelatin silver print; printed 1958 5 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker

58 FI-20, Chicago, 1958
Gelatin silver print; printed 1958
5 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker  61 DZ-21, Frankfurt, 1961 Gelatin silver print; printed 1985 8 x 10 inches

Ray K. Metzker

61 DZ-21, Frankfurt, 1961
Gelatin silver print; printed 1985
8 x 10 inches

Ray K. Metzker  58 EY-31, Chicago, 1958 Gelatin silver print; printed 1958 5 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker

58 EY-31, Chicago, 1958
Gelatin silver print; printed 1958
5 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker  58 BI-1, Chicago, 1958 Gelatin silver print; printed 1958 7 1/8 x 7 1/4 inches

Ray K. Metzker

58 BI-1, Chicago, 1958
Gelatin silver print; printed 1958
7 1/8 x 7 1/4 inches

Ray K. Metzker  64 DW-39, Philadelphia, 1964 Gelatin silver print; printed 1964 5 7/8 x 8 3/4 inches

Ray K. Metzker

64 DW-39, Philadelphia, 1964
Gelatin silver print; printed 1964
5 7/8 x 8 3/4 inches

Ray K. Metzker  63 I-29, Philadelphia, 1963 Gelatin silver print; printed 1963 6 x 8 7/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker

63 I-29, Philadelphia, 1963
Gelatin silver print; printed 1963
6 x 8 7/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker  58 AB-21, Chicago, 1958 Gelatin silver print; printed 1958 6 x 8 3/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker

58 AB-21, Chicago, 1958
Gelatin silver print; printed 1958
6 x 8 3/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker  58 EU-5, Chicago, 1958 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1958 5 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker

58 EU-5, Chicago, 1958
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1958
5 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches

 

Ray K. Metzker, 63 HE-39, Philadelphia, 1963

Ray K. Metzker

63 HE-39, Philadelphia, 1963
Gelatin silver print; printed 1963
6 1/8 x 9 inches

Ray K. Metzker  58 DL-15, Chicago, 1958 Gelatin silver print; printed 1958 5 3/4 x 8 3/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker

58 DL-15, Chicago, 1958
Gelatin silver print; printed 1958
5 3/4 x 8 3/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker  63 KA-7, Philadelphia, 1963 Gelatin silver print; printed 1963 6 x 8 3/4 inches

Ray K. Metzker

63 KA-7, Philadelphia, 1963
Gelatin silver print; printed 1963
6 x 8 3/4 inches

Ray K. Metzker  61 CO-23, Europe, 1961 Gelatin silver print; printed 1961 6 x 8 7/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker

61 CO-23, Europe, 1961
Gelatin silver print; printed 1961
6 x 8 7/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker  57 FS-22, Chicago, 1957 Gelatin silver print; printed 1957 6 1/8 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker

57 FS-22, Chicago, 1957
Gelatin silver print; printed 1957
6 1/8 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker  68 BS, Philadelphia, 1968 Gelatin silver print; printed 1968 5 1/2 x 9 inches

Ray K. Metzker

68 BS, Philadelphia, 1968
Gelatin silver print; printed 1968
5 1/2 x 9 inches

Ray K. Metzker  58 FA-17, 1958 Gelatin silver print; printed 1958 5 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker

58 FA-17, 1958
Gelatin silver print; printed 1958
5 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches

Ray K. Metzker  68 EI 37-38, Triple Frame, 1968 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1968 3 7/8 x 8 7/8 inches

Ray K. Metzker

68 EI 37-38, Triple Frame, 1968
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1968
3 7/8 x 8 7/8 inches

Alex Majoli  Scene #3505, Odessa, Ukraine, March 2022 Archival pigment print 35 ½ x 47 ¼ inches

Alex Majoli

Scene #3505, Odessa, Ukraine, March 2022
Archival pigment print
35 ½ x 47 ¼ inches
 

Alex Majoli  Falling, Brazil, 2018 Archival pigment print 31 ½ x 24 inches

Alex Majoli

Falling, Brazil, 2018
Archival pigment print
31 ½ x 24 inches

Alex Majoli  Scene #2593, Republic of Congo, 2013 Archival pigment print 35 3/8 x 47 1/8 inches

Alex Majoli

Scene #2593, Republic of Congo, 2013
Archival pigment print
35 3/8 x 47 1/8 inches

Alex Majoli Scene #9857, Republic of Congo, 2013  Archival pigment print; printed 2018  35 3/8 x 47 1/8 in.

Alex Majoli
Scene #9857, Republic of Congo, 2013

Archival pigment print; printed 2018

35 3/8 x 47 1/8 inches

Press Release

Dating back to the Renaissance, artists have used the dramatic technique of painting shadows and bathing a subject in a single light source. The effect was used both to illuminate and lead the viewer’s eye, making a particular area the focal point within a painting. The method, known as chiaroscuro, derived from two Italian words chiaro, meaning clear or bright and oscuro meaning dark. Burn it In pays homage to the beauty and the power of the dark print, bringing together the work of four internationally renowned photographers: W. Eugene Smith, Roy DeCarava, Ray Metzker and Alex Majoli.

 

W. Eugene Smith, perhaps the single most important American photographer in the development of the editorial photo essay, famously instructed his then darkroom assistant, the photographer James Karales: “You have to work it over and over… you have to burn it in.” For Smith, authenticity of the emotion of a scene outweighed the authenticity of the scene itself. Using heavy contrast, so heavy that it created a dramatic chiaroscuro effect, he believed that 90% of a photographic image was made in the darkroom, using potassium ferrocyanide to paint and pull areas back into the light. Spanish Wake, 1951 included in this exhibition, could well be considered an homage to one of Rembrandt’s masterpieces The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp painted in 1632 both in composition and sensibility of light.

 

Roy DeCarava in conversation once stated: “I’m not a documentarian, I never have been. I think of myself as poetic, a maker of visions, dreams, and a few nightmares.” Combining often pointed political commentary with aesthetic and formal rigor, his pictures were characterized by moody lighting and darker tones to break through a kind of literalness and achieve a creative expression.

 

Ray Metzker considered himself ‘an intellectual wanderer,’ his images pushed the boundaries of what seemed formally possible in black and white photography and in the words of Keith F. Davis, senior curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins, ‘transcended any simple notion of technical experimentation of formalism to illuminate a vastly larger human realm.’

 

Italian born photographer Alex Majoli is the only photographer in the exhibition making work today and has traveled the world photographing political demonstrations, humanitarian emergencies and quiet moments of daily life. Inspired by the paintings of Caravaggio, whose dramatic use of illumination and extreme shadows came to be known as tenebrism, from the Italian tenebroso meaning dark and mysterious, Majoli’s images possess a quality of light and sense of human theatre which is again highly dramatic. Majoli, in spite of making his pictures during daylight hours, unlike the other photographers in this exhibition, uses an elaborate off-camera flash method to plunge the surroundings into darkness to create, quoting curator David Company, ‘something resembling moonlight,’ transforming the scene profoundly.

 

Pioneers in their field, the photographers in this exhibition, some of whom began working almost a century ago, invite profound reflection upon not only the human condition, but what it is to experience the negative space. Photography begins with darkness, an unexposed sheet of photographic film will produce a clear negative that will print as pure black. The act of ‘burning in,’ to take a negative in part back towards it’s original state speaks to origins both of the human condition and of the history of art.