22. 6. — 26. 8. 2018
“… whatever ideas exist in my work come out of the experience of wandering and walking. ”
Photos from the exhibition
Photos from the exhibition opening
In a special collaboration with Leica, this exhibition of pictures by Alex Webb presents his personal selection from his varied and expansive life’s work. The collection offers an overview of nearly three decades of his colour photography. Besides India, Greece, Grenada and Haiti, the exhibition is made up of images taken in Cuba and Mexico, the subjects of two of his books, La Calle and Violet Isle, the latter a collaboration with his wife, the photographer Rebecca Norris Webb. Often inspired by the light, colour, and atmosphere of the tropics, Webb has wandered the streets of the world, not just documenting daily life, but discovering unique and occasionally enigmatic moments that at times have sociopolitical resonance. The photographs were taken with Leica M cameras.
From the preface of Alex Webb’s book The Suffering of Light, thirty years of photographs published by Thames & Hudson Ltd. in 2011:
„In 1975, I reached a kind of dead end in my photography. I had been photographing in black and white in my chosen medium; the American social landscape in New England and around New York – desolate parking lots inhabited by elusive human figures, lost-looking children strapped in car seats, and dogs slouching by on the street. The photographs were a little alienated, sometimes ironic, occasionally amusing, perhaps a bit surreal, and emotionally detached. Somehow I sensed that the work wasn’t taking me anywhere new. I seemed to be exploring territory that other photographers – such as Lee Friedlander and Charles Harbutt – had already discovered. I happened to pick up Graham Greene’s novel The Comedians, a work set in the turbulent world of Papa Doc’s Haiti, and read about a world that fascinated and scared me. Within months, I was on a plane to Port-au-Prince.
That first three-week trip to Haiti transformed me – both as a photographer and as a human being. I photographed a kind of world I had never experienced before, a world of emotional vibrancy and intensity: raw, disjointed, often tragic. I began to explore other places – in the Caribbean, along the U.S.-Mexico border – places, like Haiti, where life seemed to be lived on the stoop and in the street. Three years after my first trip to Haiti, I realized there was another emotional note that had to be reckoned with: the intense, vibrant color of these world. Searing light and intense color seemed somehow embedded in the cultures that I had begun working in, so utterly different than the gray-brown reticence of my New England background. Since then, I have worked predominantly in color.
Not a typical documentary photographer or photojournalist, I’ve worked essentially as a street photographer, exploring the world with the camera, allowing the rhythm and the life of the street to guide and inform the work. For me, everything comes, first and foremost, from the street. Whatever insights – sociopolitical, cultural, or aesthetic – I may have into the societies I have photographed over the years come not from preconception, but from the process of wandering the street. At times, I feel the street can sometimes be a kind of bellwether, hinting at sociopolitical changes to come.
Over the years, my way of seeing in color, which first emerged in the tropics, has expanded into various projects, leading me not just to other parts of Latin America and to Africa, but also to Florida and to Istanbul. I have been consistently drawn to places of cultural and often political uncertainty-borders, islands, edges of societies – where cultures merge, sometimes clashing, sometimes fusing. Some of my projects have taken years to complete. Others have been briefer. Many have overlapped. Sequenced more or less chronologically, this book reflects the sometimes chaotic, sometimes mysterious proces of creation, interweaving projects and obsessions, themes and passions, cultural tensions and offbeat moments, into one continuous chronicle of the street, from 1979 to the present.“
Alex Webb was born in San Francisco on May 5, 1952. He became interested in photography during his high school years and attended the Apeiron Workshops in Millerton, New York, in 1972. He majored in history and literature at Harvard University while studying photography at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at the same time. In 1974 he began working as a professional photojournalist and he joined Magnum Photos in 1976.
During the mid-1970s Webb photographed in the American south, documenting small-town life in black and white. He also began working in the Caribbean and Mexico. In 1978 he started to photograph in color which he continues to do until today.
Webb received a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in 1986, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1990, a Hasselblad Foundation Grant in 1998 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007. He won the Leopold Godowsky Color Photography Award in 1988, the Leica Medal of Excellence in 2000 and the David Octavius Hill Award in 2002.
His photographs have been the subject of articles in Art in America and Modern Photography. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe, in museums including the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the International Center of Photography, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
2017 - Slant Rhymes, La Fabrica, Madrid, Spain (with Rebecca Norris Webb)
2016 - La Calle, Aperture, New York, USA
2014 - Memory City, Radius Books, Santa Fe, USA (with Rebecca Norris Webb)
2014 - Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on Street Photography and the Poetic Image, Aperture Foundation, New York (with Rebecca Norris Webb)
2011 - The Suffering of Light, Aperture, New York, USA
2009 - Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs from Cuba, Radius Books, Santa Fe, USA (with Rebecca Norris Webb)
2007 - Istanbul: City of A Hundred Names, Aperture, New York, USA
2005 - I Grandi Fotografi/Magnum Photos: Alex Webb, Hachette, Italy
2005 - Yours Gallery Portfolio, Yours Gallery, Warsaw, Poland
2003 - Alex Webb habla con Max Kozloff, La Fabrica, Madrid, Spain
2003 - Crossings: Photographs from the U.S.-Mexico Border, The Monacelli Press, New York, USA
1998-99 - Dislocations, The Film Study Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Limited edition
1997 - Amazon: From the Floodplains to the Clouds, The Monacelli Press, New York, USA
1996 - From the Sunshine State: Photographs of Florida, The Monacelli Press, New York, USA
1989 - Alex Webb: Fotografias: From the Tropics, Sala de Exposiciones del Canal de Isabel II, Madrid, Spain
1989 - Under a Grudging Sun: Photographs from Haiti Libere, Thames & Hudson, New York, USA
1986 - Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds: Photographs from the Tropics, Thames & Hudson, New York, USA