Exhibition Pick: Kenneth Josephson

Allison Glenn looks at the ways Kenneth Josephson highlights often overlooked details. “Photography Is,” a survey of his work, is on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Kenneth Josephson, Hollywood (Archaeological Series, Two Meter Stick), 1975. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy the artist; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Gitterman Gallery, New York.

Kenneth Josephson
New Orleans Museum of Art
1 Collins C. Diboll Circle
September 9, 2016–February 19, 2017

The work of Detroit-born, New Bauhaus-trained photographer Kenneth Josephson engages with the concepts of light and time inherent to image-making. A survey of Josephson’s practice is currently on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition “Something in the Way: A Brief History of Photography and Obstruction.”

Josephson’s clever gestures—such as the play on perspective in Hollywood (Archaeological Series, Two Meter Stick), 1975—skew reality. The banded pattern on the surface of the yardstick extended toward the iconic Hollywood sign evokes a white dashed highway line, suggesting the long expanses of open road one may experience traveling west to Los Angeles from Chicago, where the artist has lived and worked for many years. The fractured, colliding geometry in Chicago, 1963, provokes the eye to scan the surface of the image. Rich black, jagged forms intersecting one another on the surface of a wooden fence allude to depth. The search for a distinguishable form is quickly acquiesced when the triangular shapes give way to an almost discernible word, and the remnants of a painted sign emerge.

Josephson’s poetically delightful work is as much about photography and drawing, as it is about sound. The tenacious, undulating lines that form the composition of Colorado, 1959, vibrate into an atmospheric mist. Curvilinear, anthropomorphic forms disappear just shy of the top of the picture plane, their rhythmic repetition and gradual variance in greyscale suggesting the movement of sound waves. Above all, Kenneth Josephson’s conceptual photographic practice encourages a closer look at the quotidian environment. One of his greatest strengths is revealing what is presently there.

Editor's Note

On December 7, 2016, the New Orleans Museum of Art hosts a talk with Kenneth Josephson and curator Russell Lord.