FUNDACION MAPFRE opens Lynne Cohen exhibition

. February 19, 2014

FUNDACION MAPFRE in Madrid presents an exhibition of photographs by Lynne Cohen on view February 19–May 11, 2014. This Canadian photographer has produced one of the most interesting and consistent bodies of work on interior spaces in recent years.

Lynne Cohen, Spa, 2000. Chromogenic print, 141 × 171 cm. © Lynne Cohen. Courtesy Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto

Lynne Cohen, Spa, 2000. Chromogenic print, 141 × 171 cm. © Lynne Cohen. Courtesy Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto

The exhibition presents a wide selection of Lynne Cohen’s works for the first time in Spain, and through 86 photographs tells us a story that changes subtly: from her initial interest in American popular culture during the 1970s, with domestic and public interior spaces, to the training centers and social engineering laboratories that the artist photographed in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to the spas, which are the subject of her work in the late 1990s and early 21st century.

Lynne Cohen (b. 1944; Racine, Wisconsin) began her career in 1971 by taking black and white photographs of interior spaces. From the outset the artist aimed for direct, anonymous pictures that were as neutral as possible. Throughout her career, her works have kept basic elements that define her style. They give the impression of being anonymous and neutral, some seem threatening, but at the same time they are ironic and critical. These features were taken to another level when she began using color.

In the 1970s Cohen started to focus on the psychological and sociological artifice of the burgeoning American middle class. She took photos of domestic spaces, living rooms, offices, meeting rooms, men’s clubs and beauty salons. In the 1980s, Cohen went a step further and took an interest in the mechanisms for control and manipulation of society. She started to focus on more authoritarian institutions such as laboratories, training centers, classrooms and shooting ranges. In the 1990s Cohen introduced spas, and from the year 2000, without changing her subject matter, she went on to take color photographs.

Lynne Cohen captures spaces as they are when she finds them—she does not make any changes and even though these spaces really exist, it feels as if one was looking at something that is staged. The large scale of her works invites viewers to enter the picture, to examine it and to make their own interpretation. There are no people in the photographs: the artist says she wouldn’t know where to place them; but even so, the images are filled with a persistent human presence.

Cohen works with an 8 x 10-inch camera which enables her to have full control of the picture, in order to create a crisp composition and produce very clear and sharp photos. She uses flat lighting, symmetry and distance between objects coupled with sensitive film, long exposure and a small aperture, giving the photographs great field depth. Over the years her works have become monumental and sculptural, an effect highlighted by the selection of frames made of various materials and of different colors, which blend in with the textures of some of the elements in the photographs.

FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE
Azca Exhibition Hall
Avenida Del General Perón 40
28020
Madrid
Spain

Category: Museum News

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