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Shadows and Fragments

Ray K. Metzker: Urban Shadows at Stephen Daiter, through June 3 John Davies at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, through June 10 By Fred Camper Photography can be divided into two branches: “straight” photography, which respects the integrity of the negative and the photographic process, and the more manipulated kind, which allows greater artistic freedom […]

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Access Denied

James Welling at Donald Young, through April 22 By Fred Camper James Welling’s 14 large abstract photographs at Donald Young offer a sly commentary on art’s evolution away from its roots in stone and cloth and plant dyes and toward film and video and the digital world. The thick black bands against white backgrounds in […]

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Here and Gone

Lee Friedlander: Jazz Portraits at Carol Ehlers, through April 1 O. Winston Link at Catherine Edelman, through March 18 Walter Niedermayr: Momentary Resorts at Rhona Hoffman, through March 18 By Fred Camper One of my favorite pieces of writing on art is Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Archaic Torso of Apollo.” Describing a classical statue, he […]

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Through A Pinhole Darkly

Louis Brawley at Schneider, through November 27 By Fred Camper In another era or another context, some modern devices and styles might seem silly technical mistakes. Canadian photographer Rodney Graham hangs his large, elegant prints of trees upside down. Buildings designed by the New York architectural firm SITE look as if they’re about to split […]

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Low-Tech Triumphs

Havana: Walker Evans and Andrew Moore at Carol Ehlers, through November 27 From Pin Hole to Pixel at Wood Street, through November 13 By Fred Camper Because art often depends on the creative use of limited means, increasingly sophisticated technology doesn’t necessarily lead to better work–in fact it sometimes seems a substitute for an artist’s […]

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Real and Imagined

Imagination to Image at the Museum of Science and Industry, through September 12 American Pictorialism: From Stieglitz to Today at Catherine Edelman, through September 3 American Modernism: From Stieglitz to Today at Carol Ehlers, through September 3 By Fred Camper Debates about whether or not photography is a real art might seem anachronistic in the […]

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Real Magic

Graciela Iturbide: Images of the Spirit at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, through August 29 By Janina A. Ciezadlo A muscular young man is partly visible behind a curtain formed by what seem to be angel wings. Apparently impersonating a god, he wears a crown of thorns twisted from ocotillo cactus–a ubiquitous plant in […]

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Visual Music

Raghubir Singh: River of Color at the Art Institute of Chicago, through May 2 By Fred Camper In the 19th century, at the height of Britain’s colonial rule, much of Indian art seemed to collapse. Previously artists had created complex, multicolored views with multiple perspectives, but at that point many began imitating the new perspective […]

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Distancing Techniques

The Cultured Tourist at Carol Ehlers, through February 20 National Exposure VI at ARC, through January 30 Depth of Field at Peter Miller, through February 13 By Fred Camper In 1864 Marcus Aurelius Root listed some of photography’s “benefits” in a book described by critic Vicki Goldberg as “the first American …brief for photography as […]

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Forward Into the Past

New Artists Old Techniques at Schneider, through February 13 Homage/The Vintage Photograph at Yello, through January 31 By Mark Swartz The 11 artists in these two shows have all found something useful in photography’s warehouse of obsolete technology. It’s as if they’d discovered old cameras and other equipment on a shelf in the corner, dusted […]

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Faces Behind Fences

House of Bondage at Stephen Daiter, through December 12 The Photograph Transformed at the Chicago Cultural Center, through January 24 By Fred Camper Apartheid has legally ended in South Africa, but it comes alive with searing vividness in 39 mid-60s photographs by Ernest Cole, on view at Stephen Daiter (along with eight photographs of Africa […]

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War’s Witness

Robert Capa: Photographs at the Terra Museum of American Art, through January 3 By Stephen Longmire My father, like many young Americans of his generation, went to the Spanish civil war out of sympathy for the Republican government, which was being overwhelmed by the rising tide of European fascism. He went not to fight but […]

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Finding Their Place

Lee Friedlander at Carol Ehlers, through November 14 Young Chung at Bona Fide, through November 14 The TL-Cam rcc.interspeed.net/webcam/ camera.html By Fred Camper Lee Friedlander, one of my two or three favorite living photographers, has it all: formal beauty, social criticism, humor, dense compositions that reward multiple viewings, and self-referentiality. Representing a branch of modernism […]

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Twin Peeks

David Teplica at Stephen Daiter, through September 19 By Fred Camper Some early cultures were so appalled by the phenomenon of identical twins that they killed them. Our own more humane society tends to find them merely cute. But not David Teplica, a Chicago photographer and MD with an active practice in plastic and reconstructive […]

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Piece Work

Steven Foster at Carol Ehlers, through July 25 Susan Coolen: Birds, Bones, and Feathers at Lallak + Tom, through July 25 By Fred Camper Contemporary photographers who work in series challenge the modernist idea of the photograph as an autonomous, self-sufficient object, suggesting instead that no single composition is perfect or unique. In Steven Foster’s […]