New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 10 March 21 to 27, 2012

Make it Big
Craigie Horsfield
Modern Magnificence
Don Burmeister
Installation View by Craigie Horsfield. Source:
Craigie Horsfield, "Installation View, Modern Magnificence"

The opening for this show was delayed for several weeks because of Customs difficulties, and one really has to sympathize with the officials involved, “Is it ‘Art’ or is it ‘Cheese’?”

Is it Camp or is it just a bad idea? The Barcelona Circus, OK. A performance photographed in black and white, OK. Shot from a seat well back in the audience––well you wouldn’t want to get too close, fine. Digital prints that make the elephants look life size, Excellent. Digital files that are woven into a wool tapestry that is 12 feet high and 36 feet long, magnificent!

Where did it all go so wrong? It’s not as if you can’t do decent modern tapestries from photographic sources. I recall seeing a striking, full color, possibly 20 ft tall, tapestry of Hosni Mubarak in Aswan, Egypt, only a year or so ago (probably not currently on display.) No let’s cut to the chase. The problem here is the black and white images. The two tapestries on display offer just about the most cliched images you could imagine of the circus. Both are middle distant shots that show the environment. But when blown up to ‘life size’ you do not have the illusion of a line of full sized elephants; instead you get the impression of some very large and very flat elephants, grainy too. Some masters of the large image, particularly Andreas Gursky understand these problems and adjust the perspective in their images to account for the larger size and changed viewing angles. Not here.

Circus, Placa de Torros La Monumental, Gran Via de les Cortes Catalanes, Barcelona, February 1996 (Tiger) by Craigie Horsfield. Source:
Craigie Horsfield, "Circus, Placa de Torros La Monumental, Gran Via de les Cortes Catalanes, Barcelona, February 1996 (Tiger)" 2010

Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe these pictures should be seen as some sort of institutional critique or some sort of meta statement. No evidence in the press release: “richness and tactile warmth,” “Gobelins Tapestry Works,” “revel in the sensory experience,” “Georges Seurat.” But as they used to say, “If you can’t make it good, make it big.” How about ‘red’ as an idea for the next show?

Craigie Horsfield
Modern Magnificence

Marvelli Gallery
526 W 26th St. 2nd Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 627 3363

Tuesday, February 7 to
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Hours: Tue-Sat, 10 to 6