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Jan Dibbets

New Horizons
February 5 – March 13, 2010
515 West 24th Street
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Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce our third exhibition with Jan Dibbets. Born in the Netherlands in 1941, Dibbets trained to be a painter, but turned to the photographic medium in the late 1960s.  Harnessing the potential of photography to elucidate the conceptual variables of optics, his witty yet rigorous investigations of the elastic synthesis between object and space resulted in acute queries of vision and reality. Dibbets’ practice often resulted in richly paradoxical photographs such as his “Perspective Correction” series in which trapezoids drawn on his studio wall became perfect squares through the camera’s transformation of three-dimensional space into two-dimensional images. Challenging the myth that the photograph never lies, Dibbets fills the assumed paltriness of the reproduced image with a sense of intellectual wonder assumed to be absent from the unequivocality of both the photographic eye and reality.

For this new body of work entitled “New Horizons,” Dibbets returns to the optical structure that has become his hallmark. As Erik Verhagen says in his recent study of Dibbets’ oeuvre, “The horizon is not a subject like other subjects, for it exists only through and in relation to our sense of sight.” It is objective and subjective, circular and rectilinear, static and mobile. In these photographs, which conjoin different photographs of a landscape and seascape along the line of the horizon, Dibbets channels it as structuring principle, not only determining space and point of view, but also—in a very painterly way—the composition itself. By subordinating the mobility of the camera to the standardization of a straight line, these panoramas create a subtle tension between the seamlessness of the horizon line and the disjunction of land and sea, only further accentuated by the resulting asymmetrical compositions. The new works in this exhibition continue Dibbets’ sentiment when he said “In the whole world what is more beautiful than a straight line? And the horizon is a straight line in three dimensions: it’s an almost incredible phenomenon.”

Jan Dibbets lives and works in Amsterdam. He has had solo exhibitions at Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Kunsthalle, Bern; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit; and Fundacion Espai Poblenau, Barcelona; DePont Stichting voor Hedendaagse Kunst, Tilburg; among others. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including “In & Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art 1960-1976” which was on view this past summer at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In February, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris will present a complete retrospective of Dibbets’ “Horizon” series from the1970s until today.