Miranda Lichtenstein

January 28, 2006 - April 30, 2006


Miranda Lichtenstein's Polaroid photographs capture moments of transient, dark beauty. Taking her cues from early plant photography, the gardens of Giverny, and 18th-century paintings by Chardin, she bathes the living matter in a wash of artificial golden light. Making use of the most traditional elements of the still life-flowers, plants, fruits, and vegetables-she imbues them with a disquieting quality. This is produced, in part, by the painted backdrops in front of which she places her subjects. Shadowy, slightly misaligned, these backgrounds subtly destabilize the relatively traditional still-life format.

About the Exhibition

By Malik Gaines

Through her evolving practice, Miranda Lichtenstein has consistently found ways to mystify the certainties of photography by aligning them with more ambiguous painting traditions. The artist is a photographer first and a conceptual one at that: she moves ideas through her modern medium with its chemical processes and verisimilitudes, managing its materials like practical instruments of science. But still, Lichtenstein’s romantic sensibility alters the nature of the camera’s authority over the real by turning its lens toward the imagination. Just as her early series Lovers Lane (2000) treated wild, isolated environments with the eerie dramatics of the nineteenth-century sublime, so does her latest project blend typological photography with European painting movements contemporaneous with the camera’s invention, employing both the heavy presences of eighteenth-century still lifes and the squinty-eyed mistiness of French impressionism.

Although Lichtenstein avoids corny anachronism with a synthesis of content and form that’s distinctly contemporary, her projects have the power to evoke an olden-days moment when photographs and paintings began to emphasize their distinctions. Rather than posing this schism as a crisis of seeing or some other emergency of today’s subjectivity, she allows the borders to slowly bleed, letting a little magic seep into what’s real, and vice versa. More

Malik Gaines is a writer and performer based in Los Angeles.


Hammer Projects are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, Fox Entertainment Group's Arts Development Fee, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and members of the Hammer Circle.

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