"Lisette Model and Her Successors"
Thu Oct 18 2007
COURTESY OF HASTED HUNT, NEW YORK AND BAUDOIN LEBON GALLERY, PARIS/KEITELMAN GALLERY, BRUSSELS
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Lisette Model, who arrived in the U.S. from Europe in 1938, was drawn to the zesty margins of society, from the idle rich to the flat-out broke, whom she photographed on beaches, on stoops and in other public places. Though her most enduring images were all made before 1950, Model remained a formidable presence in New York’s evolving photography scene until her death in 1983. She held court in cafés and taught classes at the New School, peppering young photographers with tough-love bon mots like “Don’t click the shutter until the experience makes you feel embarrassed” before sending them off to train their lenses on whatever drew their attention.
Model’s vigorous, instinctual talent is the starting point for this uneven but interesting show, which features her work alongside that of 13 other photographers, all of whom were students or friends. The assortment is somewhat catch-as-catch-can—there are only three images by her most famous protégée, Diane Arbus, while others represented have as many as two dozen. But it’s refreshing to see lesser-knowns like Rosalind Solomon, whose luminescent image of a pensive child (The Troubles, West Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1990) is among the show’s most compelling works. Bruce Cratsley’s elegiac shots of gay street life suffuse Model’s humanism and directness with a personal intensity absent from her work.
Above all, the show is a fantastic excuse to see outstanding pieces by the likes of Peter Hujar, Larry Fink and Leon Levinstein. While their connection to Model can seem tangential at times—like trying to find the resemblance between second cousins at a family reunion—so what? It’s just nice to have everyone together.