New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 45 November 20 to 26, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Master of Black and White
George Tice
60 Years of Photography

Photo by George Tice . Source: George Tice, "Petit’s Mobil Station, Cherry Hill, NJ" 1974

There are 36 George Tice images in this marvelous retrospective, enough to drive the inkjet obsessed back to the darkroom. And while Tice has long been known for his extraordinary black and white prints, seeing some of the high points of his career helps to explain his iconic status.

Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Tice joined a local camera club at age 14 and within two years, had won praise from a professional photographer who was critiquing members’ work. It was a defining event because after briefly studying commercial photography in high school and joining the Navy, he had the opportunity to publish a photo of an explosion aboard a ship. Edward Steichen just happened to see the picture and purchased it for the Museum of Modern Art in 1959. Tice was 21 years old.

Now 75, Tice has spent much of his career documenting rural and urban landscapes and the vestiges of Americana in danger of disappearing.

He says, “It takes the passage of time before an image of a commonplace subject can be assessed. The great difficulty of what I attempt is seeing beyond the moment; the everydayness of life gets in the way of the eternal.”

Photo by George Tice . Source: George Tice, "Car for Sale, Paterson, New Jersey, 1969"

Signs, building facades, storefronts, soda fountains, gas stations and barbershops are all part of his oeuvre, with several well-known examples in this exhibition. Perhaps the most iconic is “From the Chrysler Building, NY, 1978.” It’s a striking view and also one of the largest images on display—a 35 x 26 inch Platinum/palladium print that compels the viewer to take a closer look. Then again, Tice’s images, which are mostly 8 x 10 inches, are so carefully composed and printed that you’re forced to move closer to see all of the detail. One example is “Country Road, Lancaster, PA, 1961.” The artist captured a lone Volkswagen traveling along a country road illuminated by a shaft of light. It is absolutely stunning and one of my favorites. What would it look like if it were larger? Would it have the same impact?

Photo by George Tice . Source: George Tice, "Tree # 8, New Jersey" 1964

I enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of “Tree #8, NJ, 1964;” it’s yet another aspect of the artist’s talents. His earlier work also reveals his graphic sensibilities such as “Kitty, Memphis, TN, 1958” where he uses the car window to frame the sleeping woman’s face. In his “Self-Portrait with Barbara, 1956,” Barbara’s jaw is cropped out…and she looks at George adoringly who is smiling back. It’s an intimate close-up.

Photo by George Tice . Source: George Tice, "Self Portrait with Barbara, Memphis, Tennessee, 1956"

Considering that Tice has published 18 books over the course of his career, an exhibition with just 36 images can only be a small sampling of the photographer’s work. There’s certainly enough here to be a proper tribute to his talents but maybe not enough to fully appreciate all that he has done. Some of his books are for sale at the gallery, including his brand new one—Seldom Seen, which contains 100 unpublished photographs. It can only whet your appetite to see more Tice.

George Tice
60 Years of Photography

Nailya Alexander
41 E 57th St. 7th Fl
Midtown         Map

212 315 2211

Wednesday, September 18 to
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Hours: Tues-Sat, 10 to 6

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat