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Photo of the Week #19

Ray K Metzker

Ray K Metzker, City Drillers II,  1966/1983

Ray K Metzker, City Drillers II,  1966/1983


January 22, 2019
While enjoying a 21 month sojourn across Europe in 1960 and 1961, Ray Metzker was attracted to the deep shadows and intense sunlight he witnessed in Italy and Spain, resulting in an epiphany...that his principal subject would be "light." Coincidentally, he encountered a Jean Tinguely sculpture in Basel, Switzerland, and this combination of light and kinetics inspired Ray to begin his ground-breaking 1964 series "Composites," which he explored over the following forty years.

In 1983, near the conclusion of his series "City Whispers," in which pedestrians were partially submerged in darkness, Ray returned to the darkroom to revisit earlier rolls of film taken in the mid-1960's for yet unrealized composites. The result was three new composites titled "City Drillers." We are pleased to offer "City Drillers II," featuring seven prints mounted in a Plexiglas box frame measuring 20 x 16," signed, titled and editioned 1/20 on the mount.

"City Drillers II," a contest between darkness and light, perfectly illustrates Ray's mindset at that time... a deep pessimism regarding many art critics' dismissals of modernism, while still embracing his rich feelings for the common man...a battle between the conceptual and the humanistic.

Only six from the projected edition of 20 were ever realized, including #3/20, now in the extensive collection of Ray Metzker's work curated by Keith Davis for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and reproduced in his 2012  monograph The Photographs  of Ray K. Metzker. It can also be seen in Ray K. Metzker: City Stills, from Prestel publishers, 2002, with an introduction by yours truly.