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Indepth Arts News:

"William Christenberry: Photographs, 1961-2005"
2007-12-21 until 2008-03-16
Gibbes Museum of Art
Charleston, SC, USA United States of America

Ranging from his Brownie photographs of the early 1960s to his later work with a large-format camera William Christenberry: Photographs, 1961 – 2005 is a survey of this artist’s poetic documentation of southern vernacular architecture, signage and landscape that captures moments of quiet beauty in a sometimes rustic terrain. The exhibition William Christenberry: Photographs, 1961 – 2005 will be on view in the Main Gallery of the Gibbes Museum of Art from December 21, 2007 through March 16, 2008.

Since the early 1960s, William Christenberry has photographed the American South, focusing his attention on his hometown, Hale County, Alabama. Christenberry has returned to Hale County every year to record its slowly changing landscape and structures. He has recorded many buildings and sites repeatedly, capturing progressive stages of their physical decrepitude. A subtle palette, poetic simplicity and classical compositions give Christenberry’s photographs of southern landscapes including kudzu, churches, gravesites and vernacular architecture a compelling power. Straddling the past and present, Christenberry’s art evokes the form and power of the passage of time.

Coupling never-before-seen photographs, both old and new, with images that are now iconic, William Christenberry: Photographs, 1961 – 2005 comprises fifty photographic works and one sculpture, and, in turn, conveys the breadth of Christenberry’s unprecedented project and singular photographic vision. The unorthodox mix of media, shown side by side, invites the viewer to grasp the full scope and complexity of Christenberry’s very personal investigation of both his own heritage and that of the American South.

Aperture, a not-for-profit organization devoted to photography and the visual arts, has organized this traveling exhibition and produced the accompanying publication entitled William Christenberry by Elizabeth Broun, Walter Hopps, Andy Grundberg and Howard N. Fox.

William Christenberry
Along with such masters as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, William Christenberry (b. 1936) is widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of color photography. He is world renowned for his photography, sculpture, drawings and paintings that pay tribute to his roots in rural Alabama. Christenberry has been a professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, D.C. since 1968. His work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; Museum of Modern Art in New York; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Guinea Church, near Moundville, Alabama, 1964,
by William Christenberry (b. 1936),
35mm photograph,
courtesy of Aperture Foundation.

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