Absence / Presence: Richard Pousette-Dart as Photographer
Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-92) pursued photography as a serious visual enterprise throughout his long and distinguished career, creating brilliant nature studies and portraits, including those of New York School colleagues Mark Rothko, Betty Parsons, John Graham, Barnett Newman and Theodoros Stamos. In 1948 Pousette-Dart's photographs were presented in a one-man show at the Betty Parsons Gallery and in 1953 honored by Photography Magazine, yet today this penetrating body of work is overshadowed by the artist’s immense achievements in painting. The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is proud to organize Absence/Presence, the first museum survey of Pousette-Dart's photographic work. The exhibition draws together approximately 45 vintage photographs printed by the artist between the 1930s and 1980s, including unique examples with hand-applied pigments. Absence/Presence is additionally supported by archival display materials and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.
Absence/Presence demonstrates that Richard Pousette-Dart was a masterful, innovative photographer working in dialogue with avant-garde strains of the medium and the visual language of painting. Compelling images of fellow artists, musicians, filmmakers and writers reveal the rich intellectual milieu in which the artist flourished, his subjects often suspended within veils of timeless “presence” fashioned through multiple exposure and superimposition. Sumptuous photographic images of the natural world mirror the spiritual and transcendent properties of light, form and line at the heart of Pousette-Dart’s abstract painting. Presenting the extraordinary vision of one of the 20th century's leading abstract artists as captured through the camera's lens and further shaped by advanced darkroom approaches, Absence/Presence illuminates Richard Pousette-Dart as a multifaceted Abstract Expressionist fascinated by the universal possibilities inherent at the nexus of hand and eye.