Residential B-2, by William Leavitt, 1995

William Leavitt Residential B-2, 1995

Medium: 4 color photographs
Dimensions: 12 x 52 x 1 1/2 in. (30.5 x 132.1 x 3.8 cm) overall (framed)
Credit Line: Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali Gallery, New York. Image courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali Gallery

Reminiscent of 1940s film noir, 1970s period pictures, and the painterly technique of chiaroscuro, the empty rooms, illuminated facades, and vacant doorways in this photographic work beckon with mystery, as though something strange and perhaps forbidden is happening just behind the door or just outside the frame. By creating provocative juxtapositions of what appear to be familiar, perhaps appropriated images, William Leavitt's works reveal the suggestive power of images and objects, our susceptibility to visual signifiers, and what amount of agency the complicity required for the suspension of disbelief might force us to surrender. In this way, his work is critical of the passive reception of images—whether in art, film, theater, or the media—arguing that meaning is deliberately constructed, often accompanied by an agenda.


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citation for this page
"Residential B-2." Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology Digital Archive. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2017. https://​​take-it-or-leave-it/​art/​residential-b-2/​.