The Austin Museum of Art
(AMOA) presents Clifford Ross Photography: Outside Realism. Ross epic photography exposes both the peaceful and chaotic qualities of nature through both realistic and abstract realms. Twenty-one black and white and color photographs range from notebook to billboard-sized views of mountains, waves and beyond. AMOA chose to present Ross first significant museum exhibition because his explorations of photography redefine American landscape art and resonate with the communitys interests in environment and technology.
Clifford Ross began his career in art as an abstract painter in the 1970s and then gravitated toward realistic painting and sculpture a decade later. He became seriously engaged with photography during a gallery exhibition of his work, where his large-scale, colorful, abstract paintings were hung next to a handful of very small black and white photos that served as inspiration. He began to further explore the medium in the mid-90s and now, challenges its fundamental foundations.
Ross photographs mountain landscapes from seven miles away with a level of razorsharp clarity previously unachieved. The artist brings together the two contrasting fields of art and science with his inventive use of film and camera technologies. He provides an immersive, you-are-there experience with works like the 10-foot, high-resolution panoramic photographs of Mount Sopris, a twin-peaked mountain in the Colorado Rockies.
Combining World War II era aerial photographic equipment with contemporary digital post-production techniques, Ross creates sublime images. Four large-scale photographs from his Mountain series show changes in light and atmosphere in one day.
Nature is bigger than me and reduces me to simply an awestruck observer. As an artist, it is my job to take that experience and make something, that does to others what nature did to me, Clifford Ross explains. To be overwhelmed by nature is to learn to see the world in a different way.
Works from several series that show Ross ongoing experimentations with realism and abstraction will be on display. For the Hurricane series, Ross tracked storms on the internet, as they developed in the Sahara, across the Atlantic and up the Eastern Seaboard. Between August 1998 and September 11, 2001, the dramatic date of his last Hurricane shoot, he captured thousands of images of stormy seas. The six featured photographs of waves capture natures power views that are impossible for the eye alone to perceive. The expressive energy of these black-and-white photographs ranges from soothing to menacing and evokes visitor reactions that are just as varied. By contrast, the small 10 x 8-inch diptychs and triptychs of the Horizon series show a quieter more contemplative view of the ocean.
Clifford Ross photographs American landscapes with an eye for both the picturesque and the abstract, said Andrea Mellard, AMOA Curatorial Associate. His experiments within the media of photography both heighten natures details and playfully deconstruct its forms.
Balancing his interest in realism, Ross also explores abstraction, which is represented in selected works from his Grain and Mountain Redux series. Drawing on Moderinist abstract painting and the Minimalism for inspiration, Ross distills the essence of photography itself with his black-and-white Grain series by photographing pure light. These abstract rectangles ranging from pale to dark shades of gray are metaphors for the skies in his black-and white seascapes, and take their title from the silver grain suspended in emulsion found in photographic negatives.
With the Mountain Redux series, Ross reacted against the challenges of capturing the nature within two-dimensions and moved on to embrace the photograph as an object. Ross experimented with digital capabilities, and manipulated color, perspective, and scale to reconstruct one mountains image into multiple abstract expressions of the same mountain. He created these poetic impressions by draining the color from the mountain image to create a negative version, then deconstructing it into smaller strips and windows, and adding a dazzling palette of color. An early look at an ongoing project titled Photographic Opera will also be on view. This digital sketchbook, is in essence, a three-dimensional animated video that explores certain techniques he used to create the more complex, two-dimensional images of the Mountain Redux series. An interactive computer experience, Harmonium Roulette, allows children and adults that visit AMOAs FamilyLab to collaborate with Ross, making infinite color combinations inspired by Ross Harmonium series.
Although this is the citys first introduction to New York artists work, Austinites can expect to see more. Ross has been commissioned to create a monumental public art project for Austins new U.S. Federal Courthouse.