Robert Weingarten’s "Portraits Without People" at the Craig Krull Gallery

artwork: Robert Weingarten - "Portraits Without People: Quincy Jones", 2008 - Archival pigment print - 40" x 60" - Edition of 10.  On view in "Robert Weingarten: Portraits Without People" at the Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica until June 11th.

Santa Monica, CA.- The Craig Krull Gallery is pleased to show its fourth solo exhibition of the work of Robert Weingarten. “Robert Weingarten: Portraits Without People” will be on exhibit until June 11th. In his previously exhibited bodies of work, Weingarten’s photographic practice has been characterized by the proposition of a thesis that is tested and explored via a rigorous photographic methodology of the artist’s own device.  In his “6:30am” series, Weingarten set out to demonstrate that the mind develops visual stereotypes and assumes that the sky and ocean are generally blue, when in actuality, they are a constantly changing array of colors. He set up a tripod and made exposures at precisely 6:30 am every day for a year from the exact same spot, using the same aperture and film.

Weingarten’s “experiment” produced an extraordinary series of images of the Santa Monica Bay at sunrise – with sky and water ranging in hue from pink to orange, and green to violet. Weingarten’s next project, “Palette Series”, expanded upon a question raised during the creation of his 6:30am photographs.  The artist wondered how local light affected the palettes of painters.  He arranged to visit the studios of noted artists such as Ed Moses, Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, Chuck Close and many others, photographing extreme details of their palettes and enlarging them to dramatic proportions.  Although he did not recognize a direct correlation of palettes to local light, he reveled in the ironic ability of photography to further abstract painting.

artwork: Robert Weingarten - "Portraits Without People: Stephen Sondheim", 2008 Archival pigment print - 40" x 60" - Edition of 10. Courtesy of Craig Krull Gallery

In his current body of work, entitled “Portraits Without People”,  Robert Weingarten addresses the very nature of the centuries old tradition of portraiture by posing the question, “Can you express a person’s being and character photographically without showing them?”  He began making his own portrait by compositing images of objects and places of personal significance; his violin, his childhood home, a calculator, and other items. Julian Cox, curator of Weingarten’s exhibition of this work at The High Museum in Atlanta, wrote, “Weingarten adds to the tradition [of photocollage] by moving beyond the instant of the photographic moment to conjure a more synthetic, impressionistic kind of picture that blurs the boundaries between fact and fantasy.”  In order to create a resonant series of these “portraits without people”, Weingarten recognized that his subjects should be prominent individuals of high accomplishment and general public recognition. He sought out icons of our society such as Stephen Sondheim, Frank Gehry, and Joyce Carol Oates, asking them for a list of 10 objects and places that define who they are. Weingarten made photographs of the items on each list, then created the individual portraits by layering his images digitally. As Julian Cox observed, “light passes through specific objects and elements in the composition, creating a new kind of depth perception and the suggestion of a three-dimensional space.”  Weingarten has identified this digital practice and work as a “translucent composite.”

artwork: Robert Weingarten - "Portraits Without People: Chuck Close", 2007 Archival pigment print - 40" x 60" - Edition of 10. Courtesy of Craig Krull Gallery

The gallery was established in 1991 as Turner/Krull Gallery in West Hollywood. During the gallery’s three years on Melrose Avenue, the program was exclusively photo-based. The inaugural exhibition, “Photographing L.A. Architecture,” demonstrated Krull’s interest in the cultural history of Southern California and also marked the beginning of his representation of noted L.A. artists such as Julius Shulman, James Fee, and Edmund Teske. The program also included exhibitions of prominent photographers whose work had not been widely exhibited in the area, including, William Eggleston, Robert Adams and Frederick Sommer. Curatorial projects included, “Action/Performance and the Photograph,” a group exhibition examining the relationship of still photography to performance art.

In 1994, Craig Krull became one of the founding galleries at the new Bergamot Station Art Center. Since that time, the gallery has expanded its scope, no longer exclusively photo-based, it now represents major Southern California painters and sculptors such as Peter Alexander, Dennis Hopper, Llyn Foulkes, Astrid Preston, Dan McCleary and Don Bachardy. Sharing the poet Gary Snyder’s belief that, “our place is part of what we are,” the gallery is characterized by “place oriented” work, that which demonstrates a relationship between the artist and their environment or cultural milieu. Curatorial efforts reflecting this interest included, “Photographing the L.A. Art Scene: 1955-1975,” which explored that seminal period in L.A. art history. The gallery has also re-introduced artists such as photographer, Charles Brittin, an important chronicler of the Beat Generation. For this exhibition, Krull collaborated with Walter Hopps, producing the only catalogue of Mr. Brittin’s work. The gallery is divided into three interconnected exhibition spaces of differing sizes. Exhibitions may focus on a single artist, but are more often comprised of two or three concurrent “solo” shows that explore complimentary themes, issues, or aesthetics. In fact, as simple as it may sound, beauty has always been a fundamental aspect of the gallery’s program. Visit the gallery’s website at …