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Robert Whitman and Michael Krondl

Black and White Gallery (Chelsea)
636 West 28th Street, Ground Floor, 212 244 3007
February 16 - March 17, 2007
Reception: Friday, February 16, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

With a total of six never before seen photographs of a young Prince on the verge of stardom taken by Minneapolis-born New York-based photographer Robert Whitman in the late 1970s, this exhibition sets out to capture images of the musical genius and pop cultural phenomenon at the onset of his musical career. In the mid-to late-1970s, Minneapolis was a cauldron bubbling with creativity in all the arts, but especially in music. The folk rock era of the early 1960s, which had spawned the young Bob Dylan, had given way to a spare and funky R&B sound. Pioneered by groups like The Suburbs, Lipps Inc, and Morris Day, no one took the sound further, or blew up bigger, than Prince.

Another young artist on the scene, photographer Robert Whitman was also beginning his career. Inevitably they met, with Whitman capturing Prince on film – just a couple of young Minneapolis artists on the verge of conquering the world. Whitman’s career took off in the early 80s. From his early Minneapolis days and throughout his career Whitman’s photographs have always been a testament to his talent of capturing elusive moments whether he is working in the controlled studio environment or simply walking down the street with his eyes wide open. From his vivid reportage of Cuban street life to intimate glimpses of languid embraces and gestures, his images emit a luminous movement that has become his trademark.

Czech-born New York-based artist Michael Krondl is recognized for a practice that embraces installations which become visual experiences. Krondl places personal observations of natural phenomena into the terrain of formal aesthetics, resulting in witty and poetic work that challenges how we perceive the world around us. In his precise articulation of nature, its beauty and danger, Krondl examines and decodes human interaction with nature, working with limited materials and situations that take on symbolic meanings.

In Krondl’s own words, Fall is a Frankenstein-like stepchild of the Hudson River School. Thomas Cole and his companions used to hike the Catskills with sketchbook in hand returning home to assemble landscapes of the sublime. Krondl lugged a backpack full of expensive technology and fashioned a large and threatening behemoth out of fragments of their beloved waterfalls. Sure, it bears only the faintest family resemblance to their splendent pictures. But the relationship is there.

There is another connection to the Hudson here as well, for if the virtual water falling down the gallery wall were real, it would flow out of the white box into the street and then course into the river just across the road. It would sweep any viewers right into the sea. Does it bear repeating that the natural world is lovely to look at, but also deadly? That our finely tuned neurons are encased in a carapace of mortal flesh? That our waterfront may soon be under treat from the rising waters of the Hudson estuary?
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