Magazine article Artforum International

Lina Bertucci: Perry Rubenstein Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Lina Bertucci: Perry Rubenstein Gallery

Article excerpt

Lina Bertucci's photographs of contemporary artists are an irresistible prospect for fans: Who wouldn't be curious to see his or her favorite painter or sculptor submit to the aesthetic of another? Nevertheless, the images do resonate beyond the recognition factor, since photographic artist portraiture dates back to the dawn of the medium. And the tradition of artist portraiture in the nineteenth century arose concurrently with the nascent mass media, itself facilitated by the invention of photography. As exemplified in the oeuvre of, say, Felix Nadar (who photographed Eugene Delacroix and Sarah Bernhardt), artists, for the first time, had been incorporated into the ranks of the "famous"--that is, they had themselves become images for popular consumption.

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Dating from the late 1980s to the mid-'90s, the photographs on view here cover the art-world waterfront. Among the subjects are elder statesmen like Mario Merz, Ilya Kabakov, and John Cage, but most are pictured at earlier stages of their careers: Jeff Koons in 1988; John Currin, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Matthew Barney, Andrea Zittel, and Jane and Louise Wilson in 1993; Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Sam Taylor-Wood, Elizabeth Peyton, and Doug Aitken in 1995. Bertucci's subjects are also irreproachably "serious": There seems to be an awareness on both sides of the lens that these poses are for posterity. She is thus engaged not only in documenting but, perhaps inevitably, in constructing artistic aura. The bulk of the photos are modestly sized silver gelatin prints (in contrast with the more ambitiously scaled, digitally enhanced color work she's been producing more recently) and this restrained format adds to the sense of gravitas.

One of Bertucci's strategies in the portrait shots was to riff off the artist-subject's own work--a tack that proves only intermittently successful, and is more often overly cute. …

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