Philippe Gronon’s l’Objet de la Photographie

l’Objet de la Photographie is Philippe Gronon’s gorgeous new monograph devoted to his photographic work from 1989 to 2010, including an assorted series of photographs of objects, including safe doors, electrical panels, lithographic plates, 4×5 negative carriers, and canvas versos.  The work is simultaneously a photographic study of objecthood and a reflection on the photographic practice.

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Philippe Gronon, l’Objet de la Photographie
Genève. Mamco, 2010.

Though most work in l’Objet de la Photographie was produced in black and white, I am, at present, most excited by Verso, Gronon’s first series of color reproductions. Verso depicts reverse side paintings by well-known painters, complete with frame, frayed canvas edges and labels, and handwriting indicating dates of ownership and exhibition. From a comfortable distance, I find these images to have a rare formal beauty, while contradictorily encourage me to pull the book in close to scrutinize the writing on the canvas frames in an attempt to read about the life of the paintings. For me. Verso is analogous to Gronon’s work as a whole, unlocking the beauty of an object through abstraction while simultaneously conveying material information that constructs a narrative of that same object’s history.

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