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MARK STEINMETZ | ’South East’
April 2nd 2021
In the world of Mark Steinmetz, the seemingly insignificant moments in life are little frames of unimaginable beauty. Portraits of anonymous subjects become stand-ins caught in a moment of reflection, often unaware of the artist’s presence. Presented as black and white pockets of time, the American photographer slows down the speed to allow the viewer to focus and connect through the familiarity of each touching moment. Steinmetz was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994 and shortly after moved to Athens, Georgia, to start on what would become an acclaimed trilogy about the American South. From the book ‘South East’, two monochrome works from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Athens, Georgia, were released as photographic editions.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
There is something exceptional about a candid moment captured in a black and white photograph. Whether it was shot yesterday or fifty years ago is of no importance, as it presents itself as a time capsule of a world long gone; a place where the pace of life was slower and the time to reflect seemed in abundance. The secret of the allure of the monochrome image lies in the simple and clear communication, spellbinding the viewer. In contrary, include colour and the imagery rapidly becomes about colour rather than light; an added complexity where even insignificant details in the picture will demand attention. A monochrome image narrows the composition down to elements as simply as light and shadow - and the contrast between the objects in the photo - bringing an imaginative sway and poetic quality; a term often used to describe grey-toned photographs.

Steinmetz picked up his first camera around the age of six and ever since he has wanted to frame the world. Given to him as a birthday present from his parents, he quickly found the first object to seize on the roll of film; a floating circular cloud, perfectly shaped as a doughnut with a round hole in the middle. Although the physical photograph of the first snap was lost over time, his recollections of taking the photo and the surroundings, are clear to him as if it were yesterday.

He remembers leaning against his parent’s car - feeling the metal on his skin - and trying not to shake the camera. Softly spoken and a man of few words, Steinmetz never gives much away, even when his personal memories are undoubtedly in abundance.

Listening to the artist talk about his works, it is evident that his artistic practice is synonymous with his tranquil personality.

As with his earliest photographs, the strong connection between the subject and the everyday moment caught on camera is the common thread through Steinmetz career and supports the substance of his works. A candid and graceful moment of a daydreaming teenage girl lying on her back in the grass may seem effortless, but such artistic theme carries a communicative challenge: a majority of the information is not shared with the viewer. What is she thinking about? Is she happy - or did she just have a fight with her best friend? Or is she simply relaxing? Steinmetz never offers the viewer a caption explaining the thoughts of the moment or the circumstances of the photo. Instead, he brilliantly bridges this asymmetry by offering something far more evocative: familiarity.

From the mid-eighties, Steinmetz took on assignments to photograph children at summer camp and two of his first series reached the heart of Americans through themes everyone can identify with from childhood. Summer camp and ball games. Allowed to wander around among the kids, while at the same time not supervising them, the artist was able to get intimate and touching portraits of what it is like during a time in their life when innocent childhood is rapidly changing into a turbulent time of adolescence. Stretching over a decade, the series tells the same story. A story of sleeping bags and forest cabins; day activities and late-night campfires; of new friendships and bullies; and of having the first deep experiences away from their families. In Steinmetz second series, ‘The Players’, shot in parallel to ‘Summer Camp’, he changes the subject and brings it closer to home. However, the familiarity of team-spirit, uniforms and play-rules remains ever-present and binds the child in the photo to the personal memories of the adult viewer. We have all been there.
MARK STEINMETZ
Bourbon Street, New Orleans (1995), 2001

Edition of 180
35(w) x 28(h) cm
14.02(w) x 11.02(h) inches
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MARK STEINMETZ
Bourbon Street, New Orleans (1995), 2001

Edition of 180
35(w) x 28(h) cm
14.02(w) x 11.02(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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Mark Steinmetz (American, b. 1961)
35(w) x 28(h) cm
14.02(w) x 11.02(h) inches
Selenium toned silver print

Image size: 12 7/8 x 8 7/8 in

Signed, titled and numbered on verso

Only 20 printed of the edition of 180.
Edition of 180
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 420.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Having spent the early part of his life in the rust-belt cities of the north-east, Steinmetz shifted his focus in the nineties to the American South, a place he fell in love with for its warmth and chaos. In and around his new home in Athens, Georgia, he photographed a generation of teenagers, girls and boys living up to the Rock & Roll lifestyle the city had a reputation for. Here, his subjects were a slightly “older” generation. A fashionable girl is caught looking down in a moment of reflection, dressed in a short top, dark jacket as the long black hair catches the wind; and a young woman with curly hair and big earrings realising she is caught by the photographer’s lens the second she opens the door to her car, which causes her to look straight into the camera. The sudden awareness of a camera being present changes people’s behaviour - and with adults he often asks for permission to photograph - but Steinmetz solves this by keeping most of his days of shooting as unplanned. Random journeys, always looking for the next frame.

Jittery Joe's, Athens, Georgia is such improvised shot, portraying a girl sitting in a local coffee shop in Athens. The image does not give away much other than her strong presence. A cleared table, an ashtray, a man in the blurred background, and a visible arm of the person sitting next to her - and the posing question of who is the girl? Unlike Jittery Joe’s, the young man in Bourbon Street, New Orleans seems too aware of Steinmetz’s lens. A handsome James Dean lookalike in an open white shirt, loose tie and casually leaning against a door frame while taking a puff on his cigarette. Even in a composition bordering cliché, Steinmetz leaves it to the viewer to make up if what is happening in front of the camera is a candid moment or a directed shot. Whatever the judgement, the artist’s photographs depict unexpected and eye-catching moments.
MARK STEINMETZ
Jittery Joe's, Athens, Georgia (1996), 2001

Edition of 180
35(w) x 28(h) cm
14.02(w) x 11.02(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
MARK STEINMETZ
Jittery Joe's, Athens, Georgia (1996), 2001

Edition of 180
35(w) x 28(h) cm
14.02(w) x 11.02(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
Mark Steinmetz (American, b. 1961)
35(w) x 28(h) cm
14.02(w) x 11.02(h) inches
Selenium toned silver print

Image size: 12 7/8 x 8 7/8 in

Signed, titled and numbered on verso

Only 20 printed of the edition of 180.
Edition of 180
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 420.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Throughout his life Steinmetz has been on the move; as a child with his parents and later in a life chasing sincere and thoughtful moments. His decision to take a break in ’83 from his Bachelor of Fine Art and heading to Los Angeles, would define his artistic path. On the West Coast, he ended up having several chance meetings with Garry Winogrand, the legendary American documentary and street photographer. The encounters inevitably developed into a friendship between the two and Winogrand would become an important influence on Steinmetz’s work. Most likely Winogrand saw a representative of a new generation of photographers that he liked to be around. Decades earlier, he had himself emerged from the shadow of Robert Frank; one of the most acclaimed photographers in the twentieth century. Undoubtedly, it is the philosophical search for an inner self, a sense of displacement, enforced by nomadic lifestyle that after all have significantly informed Steinmetz. The novelty of each passing moment effortlessly drizzles over the artist’s delightful black and white photographs.

The evocative works by Steinmetz has landed him among small group of artists celebrated for their contribution to American documentary photography, making his works widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions and museum shows. His monochromatic works can be found in the permanent collections of many of the world’s most prestigious museums, including The Metropolitan Museum, MoMA and Whitney Museum in New York, Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The extensive material from the American South, shot between 1994 and 2001, would later form the trilogy ‘South Central’ (2007), ‘South East’ (2008) and ‘Greater Atlanta’ (2009). A further sixteen books were published, including the exceptional series ‘Summer Camp’ and ‘The Players’, which earned him the Guggenheim Fellowship grant in 1994. The artist lives and works in Athens, Georgia.

From the series ‘South East’ (1994-2001), Bourbon Street, New Orleans and Jittery Joe's, Athens, Georgia were released as photographic editions in a collaboration between Mark Steinmetz and Eyestorm in 2001. The monochromatic works are printed as selenium toned silver print, a popular toning process where the silver is replaced with a chemical compound to stabilise the print to ensure longevity. Of the edition of 180, which is signed, titled and numbered on verso, only 20 prints were ever printed and signed.

You can find more information about the two photographic editions from ‘South East’ and view them in further details on Mark Steinmetz artist page here.
 
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DO YOU OWN A DAMIEN HIRST PRINT EDITION YOU WISH TO SELL?
Valium
With two major exhibitions during the Venice Biennale, 2017 was a year which increased the awareness of Damien Hirst. With Hirst still actively releasing new print editions, many collectors focus on his earlier work from 2000 and before, such as Valium, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Opium, Beautiful, Galactic, Exploding Screenprint (Spin) and Painting-by-Numbers.

If you have one of the above prints that you are potentially interested in selling, please do get in touch with us via the Contact page, which you can find here.
 
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