Of the Refrain


The first image in this vibrant group photography show initially feels out of place: de Kooning sitting stiffly in a chair in his studio. But one of his lively biomorphic paintings is propped up near him, and that lithe blob from 1947 keynotes this show’s parade of graceful dancers, captivating portraits, and compelling abstractions. Polio victim Hazel Larsen Archer was confined to a wheelchair, but her 1948 shot of a leaping and gyrating Merce Cunningham, his head cropped from the top of the frame, is testament to a universal desire to defy gravity. Barbara Morgan’s 1940 picture of Martha Graham, tight costume straining at far-flung limbs, segues beautifully, if unexpectedly, into Bernice Abbott’s 1958 study of light bouncing through a prism. Concepts and affinities carom through these 53 black-and-white images, and current Photoshop wizards could do worse than swipe ideas from the weird head-shots staged by the Depression-era duo of ringl + pit.

Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. Starts: July 17. Continues through Aug. 22, 2008