Magazine article Artforum International

Adam Fuss

Magazine article Artforum International

Adam Fuss

Article excerpt

Using the direct printing method of the photogram, Adam Fuss has produced a body of visually exquisite and theoretically inquisitive images. In the '20s, Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy viewed the photogram as a means of subverting the mechanicity of photography because it provided a means of creating a photograph without the technological eye of the camera; Fuss exploits it more for its capacity to estheticize, to transform objects and substances into ghostly and ephemeral silhouettes of the "real."

At first glance, it is the tightly orchestrated formal elegance of these photograms rather than their ambiguous subject matter that is compelling. What appear to be large-scale black and white topographic images of silvery-iridescent desert terrain turn out to be instantaneous pictures of liquid in motion, produced by throwing buckets of water onto the photosensitive surfaces of paper and exposing them in a flash of light. Rendered in rich Cibachrome color, a series of flower pictures in the mode of Robert Mapplethorpe or Edward Weston is frankly picturesque. But here the classic profiles of water- and calla-lilies, decaying roots and all, are made eerily fragile and translucent: the organic is frozen into delicate, calligraphic messages of a sublimity that always threatens to slip into the horrible, into rot and putrescence.

A third series of large-scale and technicolor photographs evokes gestural abstract painting--in particular the luridly-colored action paintings of Sam Francis. These images cleverly tread the line between the heroic pyrotechnics of action painting and the maudlin hues of kitsch. The thick and taut skeins of mottled, almost neon color in these prints are knottier and more controlled than those in Francis' pseudo-spontaneous paintings, their edges clearly differentiated from the photographically-flat ground. …

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