Camera Obscura

Ordinary Grandeur takes you on an odyssey through the elusive world of contemporary photography

Such inspired combinations of similar themes recur in the exhibition. Iconography of the American West is explored by combining images from David Levinthal, Richard Misrach, Richard Prince and Garry Winograd. Prince's untitled cowboy series takes Marlboro cigarette ads and removes the advertising copy, presenting a mythic version of that icon of American folklore that's a stark contrast to the real people captured in selections from Winograd's "The Great American Rodeo Portfolio." Here, the casual attitude of the contemporary rodeo competitors, young raisers of livestock, and the people who attend these events in Winograd's photos undercuts the heroic, rugged individuals alluded to in the myths of the West in Prince's images. And this tension causes you to re-examine how visual information influences your own assumptions and understanding of American history.

Six feet under: Serrano's "The Morgue (Infectious Pneumonia)" captures death as caringly as commercial photography documents life.
Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Six feet under: Serrano's "The Morgue (Infectious Pneumonia)" captures death as caringly as commercial photography documents life.

And that may the greatest gift that you take away from Grandeur. Thanks to the generations of photographic artists gathered here, the cultural currency of the photograph has been drastically re-examined. No longer the indisputable version of life as it's experienced, the limitations of photography have been identified, exploited and deconstructed, and as a result the medium's expressive possibilities have expanded. Now, whenever even the most amateur of shutterbugs looks through a viewfinder or sees a photo, a series of questions run through his or her mind as to its validity. And we're all once again looking at reality with eyes wide open.

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