New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 10 February 26 to March 5, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Modern Structures
Ezra Stoller
Beyond Architecture
Christopher Stromee
McMath Solar Telescope by Ezra Stoller. Source: yossimilo.com
Ezra Stoller, "McMath Solar Telescope" 1962

One of the most influential photographers of modern architecture, Ezra Stoller created images of mid-Century buildings that help form our cultural memory of those structures. The Stoller exhibition at Yossi Milo presents over 70 images from the 1950s and 1960s, virtually all black and white, representing a broad selection from this master photographer’s oeuvre. Included are examples of structures by architects such as Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolph, Eero Saarinen, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright now considered to be iconic. Despite the title, Beyond Architecture, most are exterior or interior views of architecturally notable buildings. In addition, there are some interior views of light manufacturing facilities, usually depicting people at work.

Basically unpeopled, his architectural images are photographed with careful attention to vantage point, lighting, texture, depth of space and overall compositional balance—as are those showing workers making television sets in Queens or at the conveyer belts of a Life Savers factory. In the images of low or boxy buildings, Stoller has a tendency to offset the subject with a strong vertical. Note the column way to the far left in Alvar Aalto’s 1939 World’s Fair Pavilion; the lamppost adjacent to the Beinecke Library (Yale), 1963, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of SOM; or, at Saarinen’s 1964 Dulles Airport, the tall concrete pillar against the underside of a swooping roof.

One of the most striking photos shows a detail from SOM’s 1962 McMath Solar Telescope at Kitt’s Peak, Arizona. It records the view from the edge of a building to the right looking out past a huge diagonal, a “leg” leaning toward it. A man placed by the leg for scale looks tiny. With the background mostly sky and a mountain range in the distance, this dramatically barren landscape evokes the vastness of the cosmos. While the massive architectural forms are the ostensible subject, the brightest section of sky and two crisp horizontal shadows separated by a swath of sunlight energize the image.

United Nations General Assembly by Ezra Stoller. Source: yossimilo.com
Ezra Stoller, "United Nations General Assembly" 1962

Stoller’s simplified palate of black and white creates compositions of dark and light surfaces. Seen in color these scenes would present a different and more complicated balance. In this sense, a handsome black and white photograph misrepresents the “real” appearance. The photo of a broad foyer in the General Assembly Building at the United Nations, 1952, designed by a team led by Wallace K. Harrison, illustrates this well. Aside from deep perspective, most prominent are the light-dark contrasts: the recessed light strips on the square columns versus their dark sides; the bright receding wall of windows versus the middle-toned wooden wall panels directly across; and the light countertop versus its dark interior and somewhat lighter paneling. With full color, the floor tiles and paneling would override the particular contrasts seen in the photo.

The exhibition includes images commissioned by Fortune, Architectural Forum, and House Beautiful as well as for IBM, Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and CBS. It continues through March 2.

Ezra Stoller
Beyond Architecture


Yossi Milo Gallery
245 Tenth Ave Ground Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 414 0370
yossimilo.com

Thursday, January 24 to
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Hours: Tue-Sat, 10 to 6
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