By Ken Johnson, The New York Times
NEW HAVEN—Photographs are shameless. They’ll do anything to get your attention. They’ll show you celebrities in and out of their clothes, exotic creatures and objects, places and events that you would never otherwise see.
Another, paradoxical strategy for captivating viewers is to show them something they can’t immediately understand. Whether because of its visual complexity, its oblique perspective, its lighting, its degree of abstraction or the unfamiliarity of its subject, it’s the kind of photograph that makes you stop and think, “What the heck is that?” And it keeps you looking until you’ve figured out what it is you’re looking at.
The confounding photograph is the subject of an absorbing and thought-provoking exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery here called "First Doubt: Optical Confusion in Modern Photography" [exhibition catalogue]. Organized by Joshua Chuang, the gallery’s assistant curator of photographs, the exhibition presents more than 100 pieces dating from the mid-19th century to the early 21st century. It was drawn mostly from the collection of Allan Chasanoff, who focused on acquiring confusing pictures, and is supplemented by photographs from the gallery’s collection...
READ ON at nytimes.com
Illustration: Karin Rosenthal, Belly Landscape, 1980
Mike (Thanks to David Emerick)
Featured Comment by Bill Poole: "Karin Rosenthal, whose image illustrates this post, worked on this series of bodies in water for many years. I know this because my sister and brother-in-law modeled for her on Cape Cod for several summers. They were reimbursed for their time in original prints, which are now displayed in their home. So I can tell you that while the optical trick may draw you into the image, what keeps you looking is the quality of the prints, which cannot be appreciated truly in a web image, and the underlying idea (for me, anyway) of human beings at one with nature. I knew that Karin's work was going to be in this show. What a treat to see it on TOP."