BROOKLYN, NY.- Janet Borden, Inc.
is presenting a new exhibition of Vintage Color Still Lifes by Jan Groover. Groover is unequaled in her mastery of the still life genre, both in platinum and color.
Bottles, utensils, and fruit are the vocabulary Groover uses for these formalist studies of color and space. They do not look like any still lifes made before or after them. She was and remains sui generis.
Each photograph, though a hallucinatory mélange of color and forms, is a single straight photograph. No tricks, no Photoshop. The insane backgrounds are merely paper set up to delineate the space. Using a large format camera, producing either a 5x7 or 8x10 negative, Groover manipulated the planes by using swings and tilts of the camera. The colors are either paint or reflection or just light on objects. Th spaces are surreal, yet totally prosaic.
John Szarkowski, former Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, considered Groover the worthy successor of Edward Weston. In his forward to Jan Groover: Photographs, he wrote
The photographs that are then made of these constructions are not only pictures of remarkable beauty, but perhaps also tests that might help determine how far photography might move towards an art of synthesis without losing its analytic powers.
Her work remains unparalleled today. Her credo was Formalism is everything, and her photographs remain a testament to her vision. Groover delighted in photographing the mundane, elevating it through this printing into the extraordinary. Her facility is revealed in the intellectual and visual conundrums her photographs presented. Utilizing the play of light and color, form, and plane in tabletop arrangements, she made the mundane look impossible. Simple objects are paired with other unrelated objects in a modern reinterpretation of the still life.
These 30x40 prints are vintage, made when she made the negatives, 1989-1991. All the prints were made by the artist herself, who was a master printer. The images represent the backbone of her formalist approach to photography, where the mundane turns magical. Curious items abound, but the photographs are not about the curious elements; they are about the light, the planes, the intersection of the forms. Its not about the bottles. Its everything else.
Jan Groover (1943 2011) was a major figure in contemporary photography. Her work is included in virtually all major museum collections and was exhibited worldwide. Monographs on Groover have been published by the Neuberger Museum; The Museum of Modern Art; New York Graphic Society; Lausanne Museum; and others, which are widely available. She has had solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, and many more. Her archives are stored at the Musée d'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland, where they were exhibited in September 2019 in a major retrospective, whose international tour was delayed by the pandemic. It has resumed its schedule and will be shown in Paris this fall. The accompanying book, Jan Groover, Laboratory of Forms, is available from the gallery or online.