The Yancey Richardson Gallery is pleased to present Rocks and Clouds, an exhibition of new photographs by Mitch Epstein that explore the significance of time through ancient rocks and fleeting clouds. As with his acclaimed tree portraits (New York Arbor), these large-format black and white pictures were made in the five boroughs of New York City, and deepen Epstein’s investigation of how nature and society interact. Epstein is less interested in wilderness than in how the natural world exists in an urban landscape--where architecture is, at its most elemental, made of rock. These pictures evoke the human aspiration--and inability--to harness time and nature. Epstein uses his signature technique of pictorial layering, and with Rocks and Clouds he further refines his convergence of the conceptual and documentary.
A pioneer of fine art color photography in the 1970s, Epstein employs his formal mastery to describe the city’s sky and bedrock, as both sculptural and potent. The mirroring of rocks and clouds and the synthesis of what’s above and below the horizon have intrigued ancient Chinese painters, as well as modern earthwork artists such as Robert Smithson, both of whom were inspirations for this series. Made with an 8x10 field camera, Rocks and Clouds salutes slow photography in a digital culture. In this way, the subject of time informs the work’s content and its methodology. When it seems impossible to make a fresh picture of New York, Epstein surprises us with an unfamiliar view of it.
Mitch Epstein (born 1952 in Holyoke, Massachusetts) has gained renown over the last forty years for photographing the culture, landscape, and “American-ness” of the United States. Epstein has won numerous awards, including the Prix Pictet, the Berlin Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been exhibited and published extensively in the United States and Europe, and collected by major museums, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Tate Modern in London. His twelve books include the forthcoming Rocks and Clouds, as well as American Power and Family Business, for which he won the Krazna-Krausz Photography Book Award (2004). In 2013, the Walker Arts Center commissioned Epstein and cellist-composer Erik Friedlander to create a theatrical performance of American Power, which traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts and Victoria and Albert Museum.