The Unseen Eye does NOT like it when photographs are described as “painterly” because he believes that what the person really means is that they are uniquely photographic, that what the artist achieves could only be done with a camera.
The Eye isn’t certain that this is completely germane when talking about Marcia Lippman’s newest series at Nailya Alexander Gallery, in New York. You won’t be confused that these are paintings; these are deceptively simple and beautiful color photographs. Maybe you will think they are painterly.
Her subject here is detail in painting, her close inspection to isolate parts of the body – necks, hands and feet; fabric; and the cracked surface. Lippman’s extensive travels have taken her all over the world, and this is part of her report. She has been posting images online as “acupofbeauty” an expression which truly distills Lippman’s sensibility as it has evolved over her years of looking, teaching, and working. Follow her.
“The poem, the song, the picture, is only water drawn from the well of the people, and it should be given back to them in a cup of beauty so that they may drink – and in drinking understand themselves,” says Federico Garcia Lorca.
The works in the exhibition are exquisite. It is so rare to be offered the pleasure of looking. Lippman brings a keen focus to her color and her subject matter, honing in on a collar, a hem, the edge of a frame. The work is very quiet. The palette is luxe and artful, pastels and silvers and deep blacks and brilliant whites.
The squarish format is just right, with beauty precisely distilled in the frame, balanced without overflowing, Pythagorean meditations on the harmony of the cosmic order.
W.M Hunt is a photography collector, curator and consultant who lives and works in New York. He is a professor at School of Visual Arts and is on the Board of Directors of the W. Eugene Memorial Smith Found. His book entitled “The Unseen Eye” (published by Aperture) and focusing on his personal collection is one of the most intriguing compilations of photographs.
Marcia Lippman, Painting: Photographs
January 20 through March 2, 2107
Nailya Alexander Gallery
41 East 57th Street, Suite 704
New York, NY, 10022