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DAVID ARMSTRONG | Soft-Focus Landscape Photographs
October 16th 2020
Forming part of the ‘Boston School’ of photographers, David Armstrong became synonymous with the contemporary art movement in the late seventies - and considered an important contribution to American photography. Alongside the other members of the group, Armstrong’s monochrome, focussed and modelesque photographs were self-reflective portraits of the outsiders in society, observed from the inside. Later in his practice Armstrong shifted his focus and three photographic editions represent part of the artist’s series of works from the nineties. The soft-focus landscape photographs are paired as diptychs, complimenting each other in composition and a tranquil colour palette.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
As the recession took hold in Europe and the United States in the mid-seventies, a new generation of artists were graduating into a world consequently facing immense social challenges. The change from a post-war optimism and a booming economy to uncertainty and unemployment, became a major influence of several art movements. A group of young artists in New York, rising to stardom and known as The Pictures Generation, produced works influenced and critical of mass media, and in Boston a loose movement of photographers would explore another side of the current times. All graduates of the School of the Museum of Fine Art in Boston in the late seventies, the artists were photographing the life of the people around them. Considered as outsiders themselves, and not fitting into the stereotyped society, their works of friends, lovers, models and artists were portraying the subcultures from the inside.

Though the works by the ‘Boston School’ were often posed and staged, the artists portraits were candid and had a documentary quality to them.

Armstrong’s black and white and razor sharp modelesque photographs of beautiful male subjects in their neatly wrinkled open shirts and perfectly messed-up hair in dormitory settings, would form one part of the works representing the art movement, now coined as the ‘Boston School’. From the outset, other photographers in the movement were praised for their candid portraits, such as Mark Morrisroe, Jack Pierson, Gail Thacker - and most prominently Nan Goldin renowned for her autobiographical and saturated photographs, covering themes of intimacy, sexuality and abandonment; exploring taboos not keenly discussed in society.

Born in Arlington, an affluent suburb to Boston on the East Coast, Armstrong began his major in painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1974 at the age of twenty. Soon after, he switched to photography and studied alongside Nan Goldin with whom he shared accommodation. Goldin and Armstrong had met six years earlier in high school and the close friendship between the two would profoundly influence both artist’s works for decades to come.

In the nineties, Armstrong decided to move away from the monochrome portraiture work he had gained much acclaim and started to photograph cityscapes and landscapes. In an attempt to do something completely different, he chose to work in colour and a very soft focus; a complete contrast to his previous work. Trees, roads, buildings and streetlights were reduced to a mottled blur, almost like impressionist painting, to create sensual and calming scenes. The soft appearance drew attention away from the surface detail and towards broader questions of composition, colour variation and the subtleties of light; a result that was a truly stunning and endearing body of work. This was to become his signature way of working in the years that followed.
DAVID ARMSTRONG
Bush, Tivoli, Wall, Rome (diptych), 2000

Edition of 100
93(w) x 30(h) cm
36.61(w) x 12.13(h) inches
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DAVID ARMSTRONG
Bush, Tivoli, Wall, Rome (diptych), 2000

Edition of 100
93(w) x 30(h) cm
36.61(w) x 12.13(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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David Armstrong (American, 1954 - 2014)
93(w) x 30(h) cm
36.61(w) x 12.13(h) inches
Matte Ilfochrome.

Signed, titled and numbered on verso.

Only 25 printed of the edition of 100.

The price for the diptych includes both prints.
Edition of 100
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 900.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
David Armstrong created three pairs of photographs, so-called diptychs, titled Tree Trunk, Tivoli, Lilacs, Bovina (diptych), Bush, Tivoli, Wall, Rome (diptych) and Parking Lot with white line, Tree (diptych) in 2000. When pairing artworks and hanging them next to each other, a viewer will subconsciously try to connect the two in some way; a methodology closely associated with the American photographer Ralph Gibson, who deliberately paired unrelated photos with the intention to create a third image, in between the two, on the retina of the viewer. It was a phenomenon Armstrong knew how to explore.

In Bush, Tivoli, Wall, Rome (diptych), the pair depicts a bronze-coloured bush and what can just be made out to be a wall, which appears to be running alongside a park with tall trees on the other side. While the viewer may initially and rationally wonder how the works are connected, Armstrong uses the title of the work to rule out any significance of the geographical location. Instead he uses the title to accentuate the emotions in the works. The bush is in the picturesque little Italian town of Tivoli, and the walled garden is in the capital, Rome. What is important in the artist’s work is the composition and colour palette - and the serene associations they bring.

Tree Trunk, Tivoli, Lilacs, Bovina (diptych) and Parking Lot with white line, Tree (diptych) are two similar scenery. In the first diptych, the tree in the left image is glistening in the sunlight creating bronzy tones - and on the right, a flowering lilac bush can be distinguished from the flecks of its characteristic light-purple petals. All the three works are consistently dealing with the same theme and arrangement, but the third diptych, Parking Lot with white line, Tree (diptych), slightly differs from the other two in its urban scene; the asphalt parking lot in front of the grand forest in its autumn splendour of red leaves - and in the opposite photo, the perfectly symmetric tree standing proudly and solitude.
DAVID ARMSTRONG
Tree Trunk, Tivoli, Lilacs, Bovina (diptych), 2000

Edition of 100
30(w) x 46(h) cm
12.01(w) x 18.11(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
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Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
DAVID ARMSTRONG
Tree Trunk, Tivoli, Lilacs, Bovina (diptych), 2000

Edition of 100
30(w) x 46(h) cm
12.01(w) x 18.11(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
David Armstrong (American, 1954 - 2014)
30(w) x 46(h) cm
12.01(w) x 18.11(h) inches
Matte Ilfochrome.

Signed, titled and numbered on verso.

Only 25 printed of the edition of 100.

The price for the diptych includes both prints.
Edition of 100
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 900.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Bordering on abstract in their appearance, there is a beautiful sense of romance in these works. The light falling on the trees in the image with the wall bring memories of lazy summer afternoons walking in the park. The bush in the left-hand image is presented in such a way that Armstrong encourages the viewer to look at it differently, so that it almost becomes some sort of monumental object.

For more than thirty years, Armstrong enjoyed a full and varied career. His works have been exhibited widely since his first show in 1977 and notably after his inclusion in ‘New York/New Wave’ at MoMA PS1 in 1981. In the coming years he benefitted from several one-man shows, museum and group exhibitions, often alongside other members of the ‘Boston School’. The artist co-published his first book, ‘A Double Life’, in 1994 in collaboration with Nan Goldin; a documentary dialogue showing Goldin’s colour portraits versus Armstrong’s monochrome work, visualising a generation battling with a range of social issues. Three solo publications followed within the next two decades: ‘The Silver Chod’ (1997), ‘David Armstrong: All Day Every Day’ (2002) and ‘Polaroids’ (2013). The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York holds several of his photographs in their permanent collection after his works were included in their Biennial in 1995. Armstrong spent most of his life living and working in New York.
DAVID ARMSTRONG
Parking Lot with white line, Tree (diptych), 2000

Edition of 100
30(w) x 46(h) cm
12.01(w) x 18.11(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
DAVID ARMSTRONG
Parking Lot with white line, Tree (diptych), 2000

Edition of 100
30(w) x 46(h) cm
12.01(w) x 18.11(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
David Armstrong (American, 1954 - 2014)
30(w) x 46(h) cm
12.01(w) x 18.11(h) inches
Matte Ilfochrome.

Signed, titled and numbered on verso.

Only 25 printed of the edition of 100.

The price for the diptych includes both prints.
Edition of 100
MAKE ENQUIRY
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
The three photographic editions, Tree Trunk, Tivoli, Lilacs, Bovina (diptych), Bush, Tivoli, Wall, Rome (diptych) and Parking Lot with white line, Tree (diptych), formed the basis of the works released in an exclusive collaboration between David Armstrong and Eyestorm in 2000. Each diptych, consisting of two photographs, were printed as matte Ilfochrome and signed, titled and numbered on verso. From the editions of 100, only 25 were released and signed by Armstrong.

You can find more information about the three photographic diptychs on David Armstrong’s artist page here.
 
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