Recent Reviews and Interviews

Gravity and the Garden

Review: Eastman's moon photography and 'Woven' exhibits by Rebecca Rafferty

Woven Nº 11, 62 x 124” 2016  “In a way, the exhibits are macro and micro mirrors of one another. When we stare into the depth of space, we are seeing a tapestry of creation, endurance, and destruction happening all at once, side-by-side and layered. Standing before Marcuse's wide, periphery-swallowing images is like hovering above a zoomed-in view of the overlapping, unending life-and-death cycles of Earth; there's a similar level of overwhelmed detachment as when you try to take in the scope of the universe.” —Rachel Rafferty

Woven Nº 11, 62 x 124” 2016

“In a way, the exhibits are macro and micro mirrors of one another. When we stare into the depth of space, we are seeing a tapestry of creation, endurance, and destruction happening all at once, side-by-side and layered. Standing before Marcuse's wide, periphery-swallowing images is like hovering above a zoomed-in view of the overlapping, unending life-and-death cycles of Earth; there's a similar level of overwhelmed detachment as when you try to take in the scope of the universe.” —Rachel Rafferty


Photograph Magazine, The Back Page, July/August 2019

Diane Arbus,  A child crying, N.J.  1967. ©The Estate of Diane Arbus   We asked   Tanya Marcuse   to tell us about a picture that means something to her, and why. Her exhibition  Woven  is on view at the George Eastman Museum through January 5, 2020, and her new book  Fruitless | Fallen | Woven  (Radius Books) was published in July.   It’s 1982, and I’m in the lower level of the library at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, where I started college early at 16. It wasn’t that I was precocious. Quite the opposite. I struggled my first semester, but I had begun to engage, to care. Second semester I’d hoped to take a drawing course, but it was full and, disappointed, I took photography instead. A few weeks in and I’m changed. A pile of nails spills on the floor – a magnet enters – all the nails point in one direction.  I pull books off the shelf: Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and then I see Diane Arbus. Her iconic 1972 posthumous Aperture monograph. I find  A child crying, N.J. 1967 . There is no “composition,” no golden ratio, but a tight square frame of a girl sobbing. There are suggestions of a bigger world – a park bench, trees – but Arbus has zeroed in with attention, both tender and cold; the world inside the photograph is absolute, complete. The girl’s eyes brim over with tears that stream down her cheeks forming two distinct droplets. Each teardrop catches the light, has its own dimension. The child’s open mouth forms the darkest black of the photograph, a cavern. Her cry suggests a pain beyond a dropped ice cream cone or missed nap. The glints of light, first her eyes, then her tears, bring us to the sheen of a single button of her knit sweater fastened to the top. This small formality is a counterweight to the overflow of expression.  I wasn’t very happy back then; I identified with the child (as well as with Arbus). But I saw that photography offered a language with the possibility of wholeness (oneness even) between form and content, expression and restraint, looking out and looking in. And that, for me, was salvific.

Diane Arbus, A child crying, N.J. 1967. ©The Estate of Diane Arbus

We asked Tanya Marcuse to tell us about a picture that means something to her, and why. Her exhibition Woven is on view at the George Eastman Museum through January 5, 2020, and her new book Fruitless | Fallen | Woven (Radius Books) was published in July.

It’s 1982, and I’m in the lower level of the library at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, where I started college early at 16. It wasn’t that I was precocious. Quite the opposite. I struggled my first semester, but I had begun to engage, to care. Second semester I’d hoped to take a drawing course, but it was full and, disappointed, I took photography instead. A few weeks in and I’m changed. A pile of nails spills on the floor – a magnet enters – all the nails point in one direction.

I pull books off the shelf: Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and then I see Diane Arbus. Her iconic 1972 posthumous Aperture monograph. I find A child crying, N.J. 1967. There is no “composition,” no golden ratio, but a tight square frame of a girl sobbing. There are suggestions of a bigger world – a park bench, trees – but Arbus has zeroed in with attention, both tender and cold; the world inside the photograph is absolute, complete. The girl’s eyes brim over with tears that stream down her cheeks forming two distinct droplets. Each teardrop catches the light, has its own dimension. The child’s open mouth forms the darkest black of the photograph, a cavern. Her cry suggests a pain beyond a dropped ice cream cone or missed nap. The glints of light, first her eyes, then her tears, bring us to the sheen of a single button of her knit sweater fastened to the top. This small formality is a counterweight to the overflow of expression.

I wasn’t very happy back then; I identified with the child (as well as with Arbus). But I saw that photography offered a language with the possibility of wholeness (oneness even) between form and content, expression and restraint, looking out and looking in. And that, for me, was salvific.


Woven Nº 17, 62 x 124” 2016  “The large-scale images of flora and fauna in Tanya Marcuse's new project, 'Woven,' are reminiscent of medieval tapestries. The 'natural' world that Marcuse depicts is in fact painstakingly crafted. The result is neither nature photography, nor a work of pure abstraction, but some commingling of the two.” - Dzana Tsomondo, PDN

Woven Nº 17, 62 x 124” 2016

“The large-scale images of flora and fauna in Tanya Marcuse's new project, 'Woven,' are reminiscent of medieval tapestries. The 'natural' world that Marcuse depicts is in fact painstakingly crafted. The result is neither nature photography, nor a work of pure abstraction, but some commingling of the two.” - Dzana Tsomondo, PDN

 


Fallen Nº 496, 62 x 77”, 2013  “At first glance, the New York photographer’s large, richly colored pictures of fruit rotting on the ground look like details of antique tapestries. Seesawing between the gorgeous and the grotesque, the work has more in common with Cindy Sherman’s mold and mucus landscapes. Marcuse’s densely packed images are just as wild and obsessive; despite their obvious, unnatural staging, they feel almost alarmingly out of control. Everything here is overripe and swarming. Cicadas, snakes, a bat, and a desiccated frog nestle among dead leaves, along with wrinkled, decaying apples as fleshy and pale as bloated corpses. -- Vince Aletti, The New Yorker”

Fallen Nº 496, 62 x 77”, 2013

“At first glance, the New York photographer’s large, richly colored pictures of fruit rotting on the ground look like details of antique tapestries. Seesawing between the gorgeous and the grotesque, the work has more in common with Cindy Sherman’s mold and mucus landscapes. Marcuse’s densely packed images are just as wild and obsessive; despite their obvious, unnatural staging, they feel almost alarmingly out of control. Everything here is overripe and swarming. Cicadas, snakes, a bat, and a desiccated frog nestle among dead leaves, along with wrinkled, decaying apples as fleshy and pale as bloated corpses. -- Vince Aletti, The New Yorker”


Fallen Nº 89, 36 x 44”, 2010  “There’s something to be said for an impeccable still life, a carefully composed scene of blooming flowers and ripe, luscious food. But there’s a reason that the form’s name in French is nature morte: things that don’t move are either inanimate or dead. A long tradition of beauty springs from the well of decay.” —Jill Steinhauer, Hyperallergic

Fallen Nº 89, 36 x 44”, 2010

“There’s something to be said for an impeccable still life, a carefully composed scene of blooming flowers and ripe, luscious food. But there’s a reason that the form’s name in French is nature morte: things that don’t move are either inanimate or dead. A long tradition of beauty springs from the well of decay.” —Jill Steinhauer, Hyperallergic


Fallen Nº 439, 44 x 54” 2013  “Marcuse’s photographs are ultimately more conceptual than narrative, and her references tend toward the painterly. Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights casts a long shadow -- there’s even a snake slithering through one of her photographs. The tradition of vanitas paintings comes to mind as well, with overly ripe fruits and half-eaten treats symbolizing the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death.” —- Jean Dykstra, Photograph Magazine

Fallen Nº 439, 44 x 54” 2013

“Marcuse’s photographs are ultimately more conceptual than narrative, and her references tend toward the painterly. Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights casts a long shadow -- there’s even a snake slithering through one of her photographs. The tradition of vanitas paintings comes to mind as well, with overly ripe fruits and half-eaten treats symbolizing the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death.” —- Jean Dykstra, Photograph Magazine


Fallen Nº 182, 36 x 44” 2011  “In 'Fallen No. 182' (2011) pomegranates, the ancient symbol of fecundity, lie split open and losing their seeds in a bed of grapes, plums and leaves—the reds, purples and greens reminiscent of Marie Cosindas’s palette, although the scale and subject are quite different.” - William Myers, The Wall Street Journal

Fallen Nº 182, 36 x 44” 2011

“In 'Fallen No. 182' (2011) pomegranates, the ancient symbol of fecundity, lie split open and losing their seeds in a bed of grapes, plums and leaves—the reds, purples and greens reminiscent of Marie Cosindas’s palette, although the scale and subject are quite different.” - William Myers, The Wall Street Journal