Victor Schrager: Composition as Explanation


10 January — 9 March 2013

Untitled #84, 2004

Untitled #86, 2004

Untitled #50, 2004

Untitled #90, 2005

Untitled #105, 2005

Press Release

Galerie Edwynn Houk is pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs by Victor Schrager (American, b. 1950) from the artist's ongoing series, Composition as Explanation. This is the artist's first exhibition in Zürich. The show will take place from 5 January through 23 February 2013.

A master of still-life photography and widely revered for his images of birds and everyday objects, Victor Schrager embraces modernism while rethinking its components to create something new. Over the past twenty-five years, books have been a main element in Schrager’s photographs. In his ongoing project, Composition as Explanation, he has focused on the book itself, using its color and shape in a purely aestheticized context. Pages are not revealed, titles are not seen: the ultimate symbol of intellectual investigation has been reduced to form.

Using a very shallow depth of field, careful lighting and composition, Schrager produces partially abstracted images of luminous planes that meet sometimes sharp, descriptive edges. There is a mild and appealing irony in the way these bearers of very particular information turn into nondescript shapes, as well as in this dissolution of the predictably solid into vaporous fields of color. But it is precisely those same seductive colors and surfaces, those mysterious forms and spaces that belie the layers of meaning. “The books are as necessary and irrelevant as Morandi’s pitchers, Stieglitz’ clouds, Cezanne’s fruit, Weston’s peppers, or Penn’s frozen food,” writes Schrager. And further, “The real purpose in making these pictures is addressing the box of space that sits in front of me, and seeing if it is once again possible to pull a compelling picture out of it; again and again, until the activity transcends the environment in which it takes place. Everything is surrendered to the visual.”

A Harvard graduate, Victor Schrager is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the MacDowell Colony Resident Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been featured in numerous one person and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His photographs are in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Center for Creative Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Polaroid International Collection, The International Center of Photography, and The San Francisco Museum of Art. He currently lives and works in New York City.