Three Photographers from the Southwest

Marie Czech, 1972

Historically, the idiom of landscape photography has held different meanings for photographers. Early practitioners were dominated by strictly topographic intentions. A photograph was considered worthless unless it incorporated a ruin, landmark or artifact of great historic importance. The resulting photographic document was perceived as a surrogate for the object photographed. The mediumistic nature of this record was completely overlooked.

Photography has long since escaped this status as a surrogate-maker and has emerged as a vehicle for personal expression. Now photography is acknowledged as the print-making process it is. The photographic print, issued in limited editions, like etchings or lithographs, is seen as a distinct object removed from the reality of its subject and as a stimulus for a new set of responses. An awareness that all photographs, even the most realistic, are highly abstract no longer confuses photographic vision with optical vision.

Although landscape photography does not exist in isolation from other categories of photographic work, this exhibition of photographs by William Current, Richard Faller, and Arthur LaZar takes as its point of departure the landscape of the American Southwest. The uniformity of subject matter acts as a control factor for the observation of marked stylistic differences. There are however, several common denominators. These photographers are impeccable technicians, possessing complete control over the quality of the final print. A great sensitivity for the rendering of light and space is observed. The work shares certain visual preoccupations with that of Edward Weston and Alfred Stieglitz without being pictorial derivative. This affinity is not a vicarious one, but is achieved through direct experience and love of the craft of photography. The cumulative effect of these photographs quiets the mind.

These photographers share a dominant concern: to extend landscape photography to make a more encompassing statement about man and his environment. Their approach is patient and straightforward, foregoing the popular manipulative techniques for the elegance of a disciplined, traditional approach. The result is much more than mere decoration while avoiding at the same time heavy-handed symbolism with its attendant distortion and misrepresentation. Ultimately the photographs speak more eloquently for themselves than anything that may be said about them.

This text was published in the exhibition catalogue.