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American Puzzles: Major exhibition of works by Burk Uzzle opens at Steven Kasher Gallery
Burk Uzzle, Brand New Highway, New Mexico, 1970. Vintage gelatin silver, printed ca. 1970. 8 x 10 in. Signed and titled by photographer and Magnum stamp verso.

NEW YORK, NY.- Steven Kasher Gallery announces a major exhibition, Burk Uzzle: American Puzzles, the first exhibition of the artist’s work at the gallery. The exhibition features over 70 vintage black and white photographs of the American social landscape from the 1960s through the 2000s. Like the photographs of the New Topographics, Uzzle’s work offers a formal simplification of the visual field with an emotionally complex rendering of American society. His puzzle-like images question and confront the tensions present in our individual and cultural psyches.

Uzzle’s work utilizes nuanced compositions, quirky and obscure. They feature a poignant yet empathetic sense of irony. Uzzle says, “These photographs are an appreciation of America. Their structure, like that of America itself, evokes a melody of movement and collage – not an explanation. Unlike documents, they play tag with layers of reality, both interior and exterior. America is like that, conditioning us to zig-zag and change with its constant, energetic barrage of many and various realities. But there is a melody in all the movement, and I can only feel it in America.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson advised Uzzle to study the Quattrocento painters which, as he says, erased his laser vision that riveted on a single headline moment and opened his eyes to the play of planes “to head me into confusion, riot, and the camera’s gluttony and the simultaneous distraction of the world.” Alongside of his artistic work, Uzzle has produced some of the most recognizable images we have of Woodstock, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cambodian War.

Born in 1938 in Raleigh, North Carolina, Uzzle began working as a photographer at age 14. He became a staff photographer for the Raleigh News & Observer at 17, and by 1957 was hired as a contract photographer for the Black Star Agency. In 1962, at age 23, he became the youngest photographer ever hired by LIFE magazine. In 1967, Uzzle became a member of Magnum Photos, the prestigious international cooperative founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. An active contributor to Magnum for over sixteen years, he was twice elected president.

Five monographs of the artist’s work have been published; Landscapes (Magnum, 1967); All American (Aperture, 1985); Progress Report on Civilization (Chrysler Museum, 1992); A Family Named Spot (Five Ties, 2006); and his first book of color photographs Just Add Water: Photographs by Burk Uzzle (Five Ties, 2007). His work has been included in anthologies including Master Photographs (International Center of Photography, 1988); Magnum: Fifty Years on the Front Line of History (Grove Press, 1999); The Great LIFE Photographers (Bullfinch, 2004); American: The Social Landscape from 1940 – 2006, Masterpieces of American Photography (Damiani Editore, 2006); and Rethinking Landscape, (Taubman Museum of Art, 2008).

Burk Uzzle’s photographs are held in the permanent collections of numerous museums worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Art Institute of Chicago; International Center of Photography, New York; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro; the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; and the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

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