Idyll

August 4 - October 15, 2011

Stephen Wirtz Gallery is pleased to present Idyll, a thematic exhibition of work by ten photographers, featuring color photographs of pastoral landscapes with sublime references to landscape painting traditions. At first glance, these works depict visions of the romantic ideal, often with a figural presence enveloped by vast and glorious scenery. Closer investigation, however, reveals more ambiguous content, with the utopian settings often infiltrated by a dystopian undercurrent.

 

With a title that carries an embedded irony, Idyll depicts luminous tableaux, but mitigated by commonplace narratives and theatrical scenarios that challenge traditional notions of the pastoral. The artists in Idyll collectively revel in the opportunity to up-end such notions with charged metaphorical meaning.

 

Featuring many artists from Stephen Wirtz Gallery’s photography program, the exhibition is primarily informed by the late Larry Sultan’s final photographic series, Homeland. That series includes photographs depicting day laborers existing in seemingly utopian settings on the edges of suburbia, touching on what Sultan described as his complex relationship with a “vanishing patch of paradise.”

 

The exhibition includes work by Mike Brodie Todd Hido, Jim Goldberg, Justine Kurland, Melanie Pullen, Doug Rickard, Paul Schiek, Alec Soth, Larry Sultan, and Catherine Wagner.