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Ray K. Metzker


September 4 – October 25, 2014

Double Frame, 1969
Unititled Photogram, 1959
Untitled Mutiple Exposure, 1957
Untitled folded Paper, 1974 Paper
Untitled Hole-Punched Paper, 1974
Untitled Hole-Punched Paper, 1974
Untitled Folded Paper, 1974 Mounted paper
Untitled Folded Paper, 1974 Mounted paper
Untitled Multiple Exposure, 1957
Unittitled Photogram, 1959 Gelatin silver print
Philadelphia, 1965
Untitled Photo Chemical Print, 1994 Gelatin silver print
Philadelphia, 1965 ​Gelatin silver print
TypeScript-IX, 1975 ​Gelatin silver print
Untitled Photo Chemical Print, 1996 Gelatin silver print
Unitiled Collage, 1993 Mounted paper
Untitled Photo Chemical Print, 1996 Gelatin silver print
Untitled Photo Chemical Print, 1996 Gelatin silver print
Arrestation, 1995 Mounted gelatin silver prints
Untitled Photogram, circa 1991 Mounted gelatin silver prints
Unititled Photogram, 1991 Gelatin silver print
Unitiled Photogram, 1996 Mounted gelatin silver prints
Untitled Photogram, 1998 Gelatin silver prints
Solarization, 1993 Gelatin silver print
Whimsy N°5, 1974 ​Mpunted gelatin silver prints
Loveletter, 2007 Mounted gelatin silver prints
Atlantic City, 1966 ​Gelatin silver print
Chicago (Multiple Exposure), 1959 ​Gelatin silver print
69 KC-MX (Multiple Exposure), 1969 Gelatin silver print
Philadelphia (Multiple Exposure), 1969 Gelatin silver print
Composites: City Lights, 1967 Gelatin silver prints
Anonymous, 1962-93 Mounted gelatin silver prints
Hula Cola, 1966-2002 ​Mounted gelatin silver prints
Philadelphia Triptych, ca. 2005 Mounted gelatin silver prints
Strip Tease N°11, circa 1968 Gelatin silver print
Philadelphia Diptych, 1966 Mounted gelatin silver prints
Composites: Rep Rep, 1983 Mounted geltin silver prints
Pastamix, 1966 ​Mounted gelatin silver prints
Striptease N°9, 1966 ​Gelatin silver print

Press Release

One and Only features unique works from five decades.

Esteemed as a photographer, Ray Metzker's creative practice was nevertheless unbounded by the conventional borders of the medium. Metzker sought out methods that allowed him access to the full potential of photography as an art form. He continually explored the medium's untapped possibilities; at various times embracing the roll of film as a single picture, using the prints as building blocks for composite works, and even setting aside the camera to explore the expressive potential of the developing process itself.

Nowhere is his spirit of creative curiosity more evident than in the unique, non-editioned works that he crafted at every stage in his career. These one of a kind pieces are the focus of this exhibition, many of them shown here for the first time.

A broad range of techniques and sensibilities are on display in this group of pictures. Even in some of the earliest pictures, dating from 1957, objects have been dissolved past the point of recognition leaving form and light as the subject. The world that comes back into focus later in the exhibition is often the natural one, as in his photograms from the 1990s where ghosts of leaves are traced onto the paper itself. Towards the end of the show's chronology there are light-drawn "landscapes" where wind whipped clouds and darkened horizons rise up not out of a camera's aperture but from light and the darkroom's chemicals alone. There is an elemental quality to these later works: they seem to be striving to depict an essence more than an image.

Some of the most revealing works included are the pieces that employ only cut and folded paper. Metzker was always a very material photographer, as his darkroom manipulations attest, and in these works it is as if concerns of photographic exposure have fallen away and he is directly arranging light and shade in this most tactile of ways.

It is notable that the spirit of playful invention is unflagging across the six decades of work collected for this exhibition. There is an impassioned curiosity on display that seems continually refreshed by the act of making. It tells us a great deal about his conception of photography that, in a medium known for reproduction, Metzker never stopped making unique, non-reproducible works. An edition of one if you will, like the man himself.

On the occasion of Ray's 83rd birthday, Laurence Miller Gallery invites you to experience more than three dozen of his one of a kind works, showing us that seeing is a unique act of creation.

Jacob Cartwright