John Pfahl’s Altered Landscape—oranges hanging from a tree in a straight line that continues across the ground—is one of many highlights in this succulent group show of “vintage photographs from around the 1970s” (a subtitle as hazy and loopy as everything else in that fractured decade). Although color photographic processes had been available for a century, the medium was accepted in fine-art photography only after a controversial 1976 William Eggleston show at MOMA; the Tennessee native is represented here by a low-angled 1969 image of a rusty blue tricycle that seems to arch over the suburban ranch houses in the background. Beguiling geometries beneath bland domesticity are uncovered in Stephen Shore’s pictures of a black-and-white TV in front of beige wood paneling (dryly titled Normal, Illinois) and a gelatinous TV dinner on a stovetop. Jan Groover’s triptych of passing red, yellow, and blue cars channels the era’s surveillance paranoia through the deadpan progression of the photographer’s shadow inching up the telephone pole centered in each panel. A 1979 shot by Joel Sternfeld of a balding fellow surveying a crowd around the Space Shuttle Columbia conveys how quickly cutting-edge technology ages—almost as fast as the bell-bottom flare of his charcoal trousers.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. Starts: July 30. Continues through Sept. 6, 2008
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 29, 2008