Magazine article Artforum International

Marco Breuer: Von Lintel Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Marco Breuer: Von Lintel Gallery

Article excerpt

Marco Breuer has never published a "Verb List" as Richard Serra has, but you get the feeling he has one secreted somewhere. His recent exhibition at Von Lintel Gallery, which presented fifteen years' worth of his manipulations and mutilations of photographic materials, is a litany of infinitives: to cut, to sand, to scratch, to prick, to burn, to slice. Each action--frequently unnamed but hinted at in the exhibition checklist with phrases like "gelatin-silver paper, burned" or "chromogenic paper, scratched"--determines a work.

For Untitled (Cloth II/100% Cotton), 1998, Breuer placed cotton gauze on standard black-and-white photographic paper and set it on fire in the darkroom. As the fabric burned, the emitted light exposed the paper unevenly, creating a faint photogram of its weave, and the heat turned patches of emulsion a ferruginous red and gold. To make Pan (C-269), 2003, the artist scored exposed and developed chromogenic paper with a razor blade; each mark exposed various reds, yellows, and blues beneath the black surface. Small eruptions of white--the ground of the paper itself--interrupt the precision of the ruler-guided lines, indicating places where the blade stuttered over flecks of dust. The photograph as a mechanically reproducible analog to the physical world, an image of what has been, is supplanted by a unique record of the production process, one that asserts foremost the materiality of the emulsion, the paper, and the heat and light that form a photograph.

Because Breuer typically exhibits only single series, the survey at Von Lintel offered a gratifying opportunity to see his earliest and his most recent works together, and the amalgam of gelatin-silver photos, color prints, Xerox manipulations, and collages on display reinforced just how consistent Breuer's violations of the medium have been. …

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