Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to present Life in Color, a selection of painted photographs by artist and photographer Ann Rhoney, on view from Tuesday, June 5 through Friday, July 20.
Rhoney has created works of art that marry the light of photography with the colors of painting since the mid-1970s. Her tenacious questioning of the camera’s ability to register the nuances of color seen by the human eye recalls that of Josef Albers, who wrote in Interactions of Color (1963) that “color photography deviates still more from eye vision than black-and-white photography. Blue and red are overemphasized to such an extent that their brightness is exaggerated. Though this may flatter public taste, the result is a loss in finer nuances and in delicate relationships.” The rich blacks and silvers of Rhoney’s darkroom prints recall photography’s etymology as drawn light. By applying transparent paint to the surface, she fulfills photography’s promise of true luminosity, and reveals a dazzling spectrum of blues, peaches, and grays unattainable in traditional color photography.
Rhoney fell in love with photography as an undergraduate at Cornell University. She developed a particular sensitivity to light and color through her upbringing in Niagara Falls, a setting that has inspired generations of artists and writers, including the painters of the Hudson River School and the poet and novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne; Niagara Falls is also the subject of the first known photograph of North America, taken in 1840. Here, as a teenager, Rhoney worked summer nights selling postcards at the base of the falls. In the ethereal night-scape Niagara (1979), she paints the mist rising off the falls in subdued shades of amaranth and lilac.
Rhoney’s obsessive pursuit of light and color has produced artwork as much technically proficient as emotionally gripping. Her surprising juxtapositions of color evoke texture, atmosphere, and smell. The catalog for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2012 exhibition Faking It wrote on Silk Dress Coming, “…the silver dress undulates like molten steel, and its carefully positioned streaks of rust and lavender rhyme with those of the admirer’s übermasculine conveyance. The chromatic affinities allowed Rhoney to propose a narrative relationship to which the ‘natural’ color of commercially available film would have been indifferent.”
Rhoney’s artwork was first shown in 1985 at the Daniel Wolf Gallery in Manhattan. Today, her photographs can be found in museums throughout the United States and in Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo; the George Eastman Museum, Rochester; the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin; and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Her photographs have also appeared on the covers of New York magazine, Newsweek, and Life, and have illustrated articles in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vogue.
Ann Rhoney: Life in Color is the artist’s first solo exhibition at Nailya Alexander Gallery. Gallery hours are 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment.