New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 25 SUMMER ISSUE AUGUST 2012 July 31 to September 4, 2012

Four Walkers in the City

Walking the City
Luxembourg Garden by Jean-Michel Berts. Source:
Jean-Michel Berts, "Luxembourg Garden" 2005

Walking the City is a summer group show that features four photographers, Jean-Michael Berts, Bruno Bertrand-Frezoul, Wolframm Rouff and Ronan Guillou. While these names are probably better known to European audiences than American, their collective work travels well and is worth discovering. Although this exhibition only has 24 images, the diversity of the work on display is sure to be a crowd pleaser. The theme, Walking The City, underscores the way each photographer explores urban spaces, either literally or through a more dynamic approach.

Jean-Michael Berts believes that “Architectural construction is the cultural reflection of a civilization and he puts the focus on inanimate objects. One memorable example is his photograph of what would be just another storefront– except through Berts’ eyes, the venerable Porto Rico Importing Company, a Greenwich Village institution, takes on an ethereal quality. His carbon print adds a mystical glow to the windows in this three-story building. Another carbon print, entitled “Luxembourg,” shows the open gate of a garden, the soft white mist inside seeming to beckon. And yet carbon prints can do just so much. Berts’ view of the Brooklyn Bridge seems mechanical and contrived. Unreal.

5007-11 by Bruno Bertrand-Frezoul. Source:
Bruno Bertrand-Frezoul, "5007-11" 2006

My clear favorite of the four photographers showing here are the three images by Bruno Bertrand-Frezoul. His image of the Central Park Reservoir, jogger and all, is a showstopper thanks to his technique of carefully scratching the negative, burning a series of holes in it with a lit cigarette, and then printing the results. The grittiness of the city comes through. The artist uses the same scratch technique in photographs of the Manhattan Bridge and a busy city street. No cigarette holes here, but I found them all quite memorable.

Ronan Guillou’s work has some Edward Hopper-esque qualities. The colors are intense, emphasizing the loneliness of the individual in the urban landscape. In his image entitled “Yippee,” we see the quiet irony of a man seated alone in a bus, a big “YIPPEE” screaming for attention underneath his window. Guillou’s views of the city are both graphic and seductive. Another example is “Austin 2,” which might simply be described as “man and red truck.”

The work of German photographer Wolfram Ruoff, (the other three are French), offers a different urban perspective. Ruoff says, "I try to understand people while I am analyzing the interaction between them, the function and the effect on them by architecture." His architectural background may be why his photographs are as detailed as a technical drawing. In “Tokyo Girl,” for example, Ruoff uses a collage of a young girl holding an umbrella and wearing yellow boots as a colorful lively contrast to the finely detailed black and white reality of a city street. In the more graphic “Tokyo Crossing,” he shows the interaction of people with the city, emphasizing its inhabitants by using detailed outlines.

Walking The City is a summer exhibition with legs and perhaps a good example of why cities are such a rich source of imagery for photographers around the world.

Walking the City

Sous les Etoiles
560 Broadway 2nd Fl
Lower Manhattan - West         Map

212 966 0796

Monday, June 25 to
Friday, August 31, 2012
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10 to 6