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Jan Dibbets

January 11 – February 8, 2003
515 West 24th Street
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Barbara Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of Jan Dibbets' complete photographic archive from 1967 to the present. Comprising 250 contact sheets, the archives have never before been exhibited in the US and trace the evolution of Dibbets' work, from the early Perspective Corrections that analyze the nature of perception, to the Color Studies that invite the viewer to delight in the sensual pleasures of pure color and geometry.

Born in the Netherlands in 1941, Dibbets was trained as a painter, but turned to the photographic medium in the late 1960s. The rich tradition of Dutch painting with its emphases on light, structure, and nature influenced Dibbets early on by way of artists like Mondrian, Saenredam, and Rembrandt. This led Dibbets to develop a painterly approach to photography, such that his compositions challenge traditional assumptions that the medium produces only objective reproductions of reality. Also like his predecessors, Dibbets chooses generic subjects such as landscapes, leaves and windows, highlighting their formal qualities rather than their iconographic values. 

In this exhibition, Dibbets affords his contact sheets an autonomous status equal to that of his final artworks. The contact sheets reveal the unedited whole of developed film, complete with edges of the negative and their numerical codes, articulating the artist's belief that for the camera, every moment is as important as the next. In the exhibition, several contact sheets depicting permutations of the same subject are grouped together in a single installation, like poetry describing a single motif.

The works from Dibbets' structuralist period (1967-1974) demonstrate his interest in conceptualist thinking, along with optics and perception.  In 1967 he began his series of Perspective Corrections in which he photographed a trapezoidal form laid on a lawn at a certain angle, such that the trapezoid appears to be a square on the surface of the photograph, thereby subverting the idea that the camera doesn't lie.  In other photographs from this period, Dibbets developed a serial format in order to document the passage of time. Dibbets took photographs of a landscape horizon at different angles, so that each frame shows slight shifts in the ratio of land to sea. He also did a series of windows, photographing them at fixed intervals of time, so that all the gradations of light over the course of a day were captured on film.

Since the early 1970s, Dibbets has photographed geometric patterns occurring in everyday objects, such as floor tiles, Venetian blinds, fallen leaves, and gently rippling water. The images are close views with little figure/ground relationship so that the compositions possess an allover quality and are alive with movement.  In his Color Studies, close-up shots of car exteriors in a wide range of hues allow color to achieve autonomy in its pure visual effect.

Jan Dibbets lives and works in Amsterdam.  Recent solo exhibitions include: DePont Stichting voor Hedendaagse Kunst, Tilburg; and an installation of 32 stained-glass windows for the Cathédrale Saint-Louis, Blois. He has also 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.