Addison Gallery of American Art

Phillips Academy

Andover, MA

978-749-4015



 

Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!

 

On view at the Addison Gallery of American Art through March 19, 2000, "Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!" features photographs by Nathan Lyons (1930-), influential artist, teacher, and director and founder of the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York. The exhibition presents 200 black and white photographs that reveal Lyons' unique view of America and its social landscape. (left: Unitiled, from the Series "Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!" 1974-1999, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist © Nathan Lyons)

Nathan Lyons has exerted a profound effect on the field of photography for more than forty years. Lyons began to photograph in the late 1950s, using a view camera to create images that emphasized the medium's expressive rather than documentary potential. In 1962, he switched to a 35mm camera, and along with other photographers of his generation such as Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand, looked to contemporary culture for inspiration. (right: Unitiled, from the Series "Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!" 1974-1999, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist © Nathan Lyons)

In 1974, Lyons compiled an extended body of work published in a landmark book, Notations in Passing, by MIT Press. The series, made up of 96 photographs, was organized into extended sequences that explore the variety of visual relationships and meanings made possible by pictures unaccompanied by text. Picking up where Notations in Passing left off, Riding Ist Class on the Titanic is a companion publication to the exhibition and highlights work from 1974 to the present. The book will be distributed by MIT Press and includes a preface by Adam D. Weinberg, director of the Addison, and an essay by Leroy F. Searle, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. (left: Unitiled, from the Series "Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!" 1974-1999, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist © Nathan Lyons)

The title of this exhibition and book, Riding Ist Class on the Titanic!, derives from a particular image in the sequence in which this graffiti message is spray painted onto a wall. For the artist, the Titanic is a metaphor for the ultimate paradox of contemporary life. The ship's fate forces us to reconcile our faith in the power of the manmade with the reality that even the most seemingly invincible is subject to complete and utter vulnerability. It is this ambiguity and contradiction that weaves through much of Lyons's work. Reflecting his predilection for photos that include words and interest in found language, Lyons's images offer layered interpretations that challenge our cultural assumptions and beliefs, yet never cease to delight the eye. (right: Unitiled, from the Series "Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!" 1974-1999, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist © Nathan Lyons)

After its presentation at the Addison Gallery, the exhibition will travel to the International Center of Photography, April-June, 2000; the George Eastman House/International Museum of Photography and Film, July-October, 2000; the Houston Center for Photography, January-March, 2001; the California Museum of Photography at the University of California, Riverside, April-June, 2001; and the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at the University of Maryland /Baltimore County, January-April, 2002. (right: Unitiled, from the Series "Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!" 1974-1999, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist © Nathan Lyons)

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/30/10


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