The Curator’s Eye: Above and Beyond

Tod Gangler, Photographer
Selected by Deborah Paine, curator,
Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs

Beauty in contemporary artwork is often held at bay, something considered “old fashioned” or not edgy or plaintive enough to compel modern thought. But consider the work of Tod Gangler, so beautiful and seemingly everyday that audiences sometimes dismiss it as less than “contemporary photography” with its typical discordant view.

Gangler has immersed himself in the ancient process of color carbon printing that has always been the most difficult but also the most permanent of all photographic printing processes. Why continue to create photographs that require exacting chemistry and multiple days to produce? Because the beauty surpasses any other type of process and rewards the viewer with peerless clarity.

The works comprising Gangler’s Cloud Series perfectly demonstrate this distinctive capability. Taken from above, these landscapes of worlds unknown capture the intensity of light so perfect for the color carbon process. Here, you can discover the ephemeral, recorded in a photograph that is still specific: cirrus, altocumulus, cumulonimbus and cirrostratus clouds. Enjoy this everlasting quality. —Deborah Paine

We live our whole lives under the sky. No two clouds are ever alike. The objects or aspects known in this way — through our senses, rather than by thought or nonsensuous intuition — start our minds moving back and forth. In a real picture of a real place, our mind finds the limit of its starting place and the limitlessness of the world and the beauty beheld. — T.G.

Image credit: Berlin, 2007, color carbon photograph (pigment transfer process) 25 x 30 inches