Friday, January 05, 2007
Simple art? William Christenberry
Can art be too simple? That is, can a concept be so simple and obvious that it ceases to be – creative (if that’s the right word)? Essentially it just states – or restates – the obvious.
What go me thinking about this is that I am almost in two minds about the work of William Christenberry. On the one hand I find his work very appealing. It draws me in, especially the long time sequences (and most of his photographs are really about time). Yet the photographs themselves, and the most apparent concept behind them, just seems so – well – obvious (I’m reminded of Harvey Keitel’s character in the movie Smoke who takes the same picture at the same time every day from exactly the same place outside his store – an intriguing idea – but is that all it is?).
And yet I’m not quite in two minds about Christenberry. There is something else about them that is greater than the sum of the simple idea and the apparent simplicity of the images. The photographs do actually catch and hold me. Certainly there is a level of lyricism that goes far beyond the ordinary. But more than that, I think it’s the deep sense of affection that inhabits the photographs, the affection Christenberry obviously has for these places.
BTW, there is an excellent interview with Christenberry on NPR – well worth listening to: here
Posted by tim atherton at 1:53 pm