James Welling – Autograph
James Welling (*1951) operates in the hybrid ground between painting, sculpture, and traditional photography. For over 40 years he has explored issues of presentation and abstraction in his work, and is equally esteemed by critics, artists, and collectors as a central figure of international contemporary photography. The exhibition Autograph presents Welling’s documentary-style photographs in the tradition of classical art photography, as exemplified by Paul Strand. In addition, the exhibition showcases Welling’s abstract photograms, which recall works by avant-garde artists such as László Moholy-Nagy, Christian Schad, and Man Ray. Yet another highlight are the unique creations from the artist’s Degradés series. Brought together for the first time in a museum context, these abstract color photograms are created by the artist in the darkroom, imprinted with pure light. Welling’s methods range from analogue techniques to digital technologies, in colour and black-and-white, both with and without a camera.
Fascinated by the possibilities of the medium, James Welling has followed the fundamental transformation of photography into the present day: from the critical and ideological postmodern debates of the Pictures Generation that questioned concepts such as authorship, authenticity, and originality, to the current neomodernist emphasis on the photograph as an elevated object. James Welling’s relentless examination of the conceptual and aesthetic foundations that shape and define the medium of photography make him an important role model for an entire generation of contemporary art photographers. His refusal to favor any one means of production informs the multifaceted oeuvre of this Los Angeles-based artist.
The exhibition was curated by Thomas Seelig and accompanied by the book James Welling – Monograph.
We would like to thank the main sponsors of the exhibition: the Verein Fotomuseum Winterthur and the George Foundation and for further support the Ringier AG.