Ray Metzker

Informed by Light 1957-1968

Aug 24 − Oct 29, 2016
PGI

Ray Metzker

Informed by Light 1957-1968

Aug 24 − Oct 29, 2016
PGI

  • ©The estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

Ray Metzker was born in 1931 in Milwaukee. From 1956-1959, he attended the Institute of Design in Chicago, a renowned school known as the “New Bauhaus” that was established by László Moholy-Nagy. At ID, Metzker studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind.

 

Today, he is recognized as one of the great masters of American photography, and is known for his experimental style. Over the course of a five decade career, he explored the hidden potential of black and white photography through form and technique.

 

The core of Metzker’s work lies in his use of techniques such as multiple exposure, juxtaposition and solarization, all of which allowed him to transform and expand the vocabulary of photography.

 

Although Metzker’s sense of contrast is shared by other photographers who graduated from the Institute of Design, his powerful use of light and shadow is unparalleled.

 

 

The photo historian Akira Fujii has written of Metzker that he combined Moholy-Nagy’s experimental idea that “photography is a tool with unique characteristics, and that its status as a method of transmission must decide its aesthetic,” and the idea of Callahan and Siskind that “subjectivity lies at the root of photography’s graphic objectivity.” According to Fujii, what Metzker acquired at the Institute of Design was “the ability to appreciate his intuition, form and visual study all at the same time.” (Bulletin of The Japan Society for Arts and History of Photography, 2004, Vol.13, No.1, “Changes of styles in the works of Ray K. Metzker and his new images.”)

 

While using experimental techniques to compose his images, Metzker also imbues his images with an emotional resonance. By bisecting the composition his street photos, which show strong sunlight or a dense wall of shadow, he is able to evoke a feeling of hope and fear.

 

Through such works, Metzker has proven himself to be a master practitioner of the photographic medium. If he was able to make these excellent works for more than half a century, perhaps this is because of the highly impressive balance he was able to strike between experimentation and subjectivity, always moving back and forth between the two.

 

©The estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery