ANN ARBOR, MI.- The University of Michigan Museum of Art
's exhibition encompasses approximately forty works that span the artist's three-decade career and will include Turner's architectural photography of buildings by some of the major architects of our time, including Alvar Aalto, Shigeru Ban, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Louis Kahn, Fumihiko Maki, and Renzo Piano.
Judith Turner is a noted American photographer whose subject matter is mostly architecture. Her signature style consists of highly abstract black-and-white compositions that play with the ambiguity of light, shadow, and tonality to heighten the aesthetic character of her subject matter and reveal visual relationships not readily apparent. Tonality is a very important aspect of her illuminating compositions. An example of this can be seen in the way she employs the sky- above or beyond an actual building-as a monochromatic surface that then becomes part of an overall composition, a planar component brought into the frame of the photograph. This sensibility is furthered by a strong sense of light and shadow that allows elements of a building to be seen as abstract surfaces heightening its architectural essence without having the entire structure completely illustrated. Hence, this methodology is the foundation for all Turner's work.which now spans over three decades.and is essential to understanding her own ideology, which explores the ambiguity of flatness within these well-composed photographs.
Since the mid-1970s Turner's photography of avant-garde architecture has always operated outside the realm of commercial architectural photography and is visually more aligned with fine art photography. Turner's training as a graphic designer and not a photographer allowed her to visually understand an architect's intention and to reveal it in compositions that she constructs and edits through the viewfinder of her camera. Her photography can be seen as a metalanguage of architectural intention and as an artistic expression that is inseparable from the representation of this built work.
Turner's aesthetic development also explains the ambiguity in the depth of her photographic work, which relates more to the flatness of an abstract two-dimensional construction than it does to the reality of a building's physical presence. One of her first architectural subjects was Peter Eisenman's House VI, photographed in 1976. It was through Eisenman that Turner was introduced to the world of architecture and started photographing some of its most significant buildings. Yet it was her first book, Judith Turner Photographs Five Architects.published in 1980. that truly solidified her reputation as the photographer of this emerging, avant-garde voice of architecture. Turner's volume came out eight years after the seminal publication of Five Architects: Eisenman, Graves, Gwathmey, Hejduk, Meier, which contained critical essays and drawings along with an assortment of photographs by numerous individuals that left the visual record of these architects built work the books weakest aspect. In sharp contrast, Turners timeless black-‐and-‐white photographyand a selection of some color imagesconnoted the formalist qualities
of these architects, furthered their aesthetic ideology, and defined each architects personal idiom.