American Women

Women with appetites: Amy Steiner’s Untitled (Alex Eating Berries) from Natural Selection (1999)
photo: ©Amy Steiner
Women with appetites: Amy Steiner’s Untitled (Alex Eating Berries) from Natural Selection (1999)


Catherine Opie
Gorney Bravin + Lee
534 West 26th Street
Through April 15

Amy Steiner
Nicole Klagsbrun
526 West 26th Street
Through April 22

The centerpiece of Steiner's show is a picture-window-sized grid of 12 photographs, each centered on a different, single woman. Titled Natural Selection, the piece is lit from behind so every photo transparency glows like a subway ad, pumping up images that are already suffused with bright sunlight. The time is high summer, the place a pond, a lake, a beach, a front porch. In many of the pictures, women are eating, their mouths full of cake or cantaloupe or peach; one girl's face is smeared with berry juice. Dressed in bathing suits or tank tops, lying nude on a towel in the dappled sun, these are not exactly the fabled ladies of leisure. These are women with appetites and passions, at home in their bodies and in their world. Steiner hints at that world—at its broad, lush contours, its comfort, its openness—but lets us fill in the blanks. We know that one of these women, the blonde with the ice cream cone, is her girlfriend (she's been the subject of many of Steiner's previously exhibited pictures), but we can't make any assumptions about Steiner's other subjects, and we can't turn her piece into a footnote to Opie's "Domestic" project. No matter. Steiner's photos, like Goldin's and Jack Pierson's, are intimate moments offered up for us to share. We may not entirely grasp the nature of that intimacy, but sometimes just a hint of its warmth is enough.

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