NEW YORK, NY.- In her luminous and revelatory third monograph, Dark City: Urban America at Night (Damiani, October 2015), internationally renowned American fine art photographer
Lynn Saville takes us deep into the urban landscape of New York and other American cities, at twilight and dawn. These are the times when busy city streets are rendered quiet and emptied of people, except for the occasional lone figure or the artist herself, visible as ghosted images or shadows. The darkened city is Saville's stage set where dramatic lighting and architectural components form otherworldly places and spaces that she photographs quickly with her medium format camera so as not to attract police attention.
Drawn to both central and fringe areas of American cities that have been affected by the recent economic downturn, Saville captures vacant and shuttered storefronts, empty lots, abandoned buildings, blank billboards, and back alleys that exhibit a disquieting beauty. Glowing windows lit by safety lights can resemble a Rothko painting. Other photographs reveal a more optimistic message. Saville discovers in the ladders and brooms left visible in lit empty spaces, transitions to recovery and symbols of urban rebirth.
Saville begins each journey at twilight or dawn, moving through the spaces in between the buildings and other structures that mark and define the worlds of urban dwellers. When the sun begins to set, a new world emerges, created by artificial lights that illuminate and cast shadows on grand and simple buildings, street signs and detritus from the day's activities. It is what is left behind or what remains on city streets that forms the elements Saville uses to construct her images. Instead of bringing bits of objects into a photo studio to create an interior world, Saville takes the city as her studio, constructing her images by juxtaposing elements of architecture, light, signage, and reflections. In Dark City, the people are gone, but evidence of their activity remains.
Dark City is a natural sequel to Saville's previous book, Night/Shift (Monacelli, 2009) that focused on the cityscapes of New York at night. This work led Arthur C. Danto to describe Saville as "the Atget of vanishing New York, prowling her city at the other end of the day, picking up pieces of the past in the present, just before it is swallowed in shadows."
Dark City extends Saville's night photography to document other cities that have undergone urban decay and renewal in recent years, including Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Maine; Lowell, Massachusetts; Jersey City, New Jersey; Houston, Texas; Santa Monica, California; and Chicago, Illinois.
Award-winning British author Geoff Dyer contributes a poetic introduction to Dark City titled The Archaeology of Overnight. He says of Saville's cityscapes, "Stripped of contemporary merchandise and tell-tale signage, empty premises become difficult to date so that they seem sometimes to have dropped not only out of time but of history." He concludes that "The vacancy is both spatial and temporal -- and Dark City is full of it."
Fine-art photographer Lynn Saville was educated at Duke University and Pratt Institute. She specializes in photographing cities at twilight and dawn, or, as she describes them, "the boundary times between night and day." Her photographs have been widely exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. Dark City: Urban America at Night (Damiani, 2015), with an introduction by the well-known British critic Geoff Dyer, is her third book. Her two previous monographs are Acquainted With the Night (Rizzoli, 1997) and Night/Shift (Random House/Monacelli, 2009), with an introduction by Arthur C. Danto. Saville has won a number of awards, including fellowships from The New York Foundation for the Arts and The New York State Council for the Arts; a Premio in the Scanno, Italy, Festival of Photography; and First Place in the Architecture category, Women in Photography International. Her work is represented by the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, and is in the permanent art collections of major museums, corporations, and individuals. She lives in New York City with her husband, the poet Philip Fried.