Art Institute's MAX KOZLOFF: CRITIC AND PHOTOGRAPHER Opens Tomorrow
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Max Kozloff (b. 1933) emerged as one of the leading critics and writers on modern art. By the mid-1970s he turned his attention to photography criticism and took up a camera to make his own work. Organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, Max Kozloff: Critic and Photographer, on view from October 5, 2013 through January 5, 2014 inGalleries 1-4, is a major retrospective that reveals the ways in which Kozloff's work as a writer shaped his vision behind the camera lens, and vice versa. The exhibition includes over 80 works, all drawn from the Permanent Collection of the Art Institute, including photographs by artists who have both inspired Kozloff's photography and served as the subjects of his writing. Accompanying the individual images are excerpts from Kozloff's critical pieces from 1976 to the present. Kozloff's own photographs are also included, while a reading room allows visitors to further study his work as a critic.
Max Kozloff is recognized as an eminent figure in the world of art history and criticism, known for his cogent essays on modern and contemporary art. He penned the art column for The Nation in the 1960s and later joined Artforum, where he became the executive editor in 1975. Kozloff published three volumes of his collected essays on photography, as well asNew York: Capital of Photography and The Theatre of the Face: Portrait Photography since 1900. Simultaneously, and with equal zeal, he developed a career as a practitioner of portrait and street photography. In 1977, he had his first solo exhibition at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York City and two years later, in 1979, published an anthology of his early essays under the title Photography and Fascination.
Kozloff's interest, as both critic and photographer, centers on the complex relationship between photographer and subject found in street photography and portraiture. In his view, photographs-of dense urban scenes, of window displays and their reflections, or of striking individuals-call forth a set of instantaneous, unpredictable transactions. Kozloff often casts the photographer as a solitary figure who reveals, shifts, and disrupts the appearance of subjects placed or found in front of the camera's lens. The dramatic and moral implications of this relationship are ultimately left for the viewer to evaluate.
In his own photographs, Kozloff often chooses subjects that pay tribute to the photographers who have figured prominently in his writing: shop windows that reference Eugène Atget, for example, or a use of color informed by Joel Meyerowitz. His role in the New York art world from the 1960s to the present is also a theme of this exhibition; a group of intimate portraits of artists such as Leon Golub, Joel Meyerowitz, and Francesca Woodman all evidence the relationships he forged during his formidable career.
Referencing the connections between his writing and his art practice, the exhibition surveys Kozloff's ongoing engagement with words and images, presenting his photographs alongside a reading room of his writings and a selection of works from the museum's Permanent Collection by some of the many photographers about whom he has written, from Nadar to Richard Avedon. The result is not only a survey of Kozloff's career as a writer and photographer but also a glimpse into a creative mind at work, equally as informed by history as contemporary life.