New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 15 April 25 to May 1, 2012

Birds in Light
Katherine Wolkoff
Found
Don Burmeister
Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. Killed by an automobile, Milton Mitchell, donor. August 1, 1925 by Katherine Wolkoff. Source: sashawolf.com
Katherine Wolkoff, "Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. Killed by an automobile, Milton Mitchell, donor. August 1, 1925" 2011

The art world can be a cacophonous place, each artist preening and screeching as they try to be more outrageous and brash than the next. It is a pleasure therefore to find an exhibition like Katherine Wolkoff’s show at Sasha Wolf that is modest in scope, confident and craftsman-like.

Dead birds have a limited appeal to most people, but Wolkoff apparently found a treasure trove of taxidermied specimens collected over the course of many years by a woman on Block Island, RI. These were not specimens killed for display; rather, they were the random corpses of birds found on the ground, then stuffed and mounted, the apparent cause of death duly noted for each.

Wolkoff has chosen to photograph this collection in color. Each bird is backlit against a seamless background so that the image is largely a silhouette, sometimes with a small penumbra of color where feathers are ruffled, then impeccably printed in a modest size.

The silhouettes are especially meaningful to birders, as this is often the way birds are identified in the field, seen against the bright sky. But these birds are often a bit worse for wear, both from their last moments of life (“Taken from a cat”) and from years of storage. So rather than just being illustrations from a bird manual, they convey a wee bit of individuality.

Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinals. Found by David Lewis and Edward Conley. December 5, 1966 by Katherine Wolkoff. Source: sashawolf.com
Katherine Wolkoff, "Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinals. Found by David Lewis and Edward Conley. December 5, 1966"

The exhibition is arranged as a simple grid of photos, as they should be. If there is a quibble about the show, it is that artist or gallery have been a bit too modest in their presentation. There are a few large anonymous landscapes of waves and trees breaking up the grid, but one wonders why–– in this age of 12 foot photographs–– a few of the silhouettes weren’t enlarged. Let that catbird screech.

Katherine Wolkoff
Found


Sasha Wolf
548 W 28th St. 2nd Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 925 0025
sashawolf.com

Thursday, March 8 to
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Hours: Tue-Sat, 11 to 6
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