Jan Dibbets is a conceptual artist who has spent most of his life dedicated to photographic art. He was one of the first artists to recognise the validity of color photography as an artistic medium and has continually developed a thinking approach to photography. Dibbets’ work explores questions relating to light, the mechanisms of perception, perspective and space.
By Efi Michalarou
Photo:Peter Freeman Inc. Archive
In “Representations of Reality” Jan Dibbets’ solo exhibition at Peter Freeman Inc. in New York presents works from his important “Colorstudies” series (1976- ), many of which have never before been shown outside of Europe. The recent works that were made between 2010-14, come from negatives shot in the ‘70s of closely-cropped details of car hoods, but have now been printed on a very large scale that was not achievable at the time the negatives were taken. Dibbets left the found industrial color of the cars, reproduced with the equally industrial color of film chemistry, unaltered when he made the first prints in the ‘70s, but in this new series he has often manipulated the color, creating almost painterly monochrome works that underscore the questions of representation and reality that are at the core of Dibbets’s work. For Jan Dibbets the power of the photographic medium lies in its specific characteristics and technical possibilities, rather than in its content and subject matter. At odds with the ongoing institutionalisation of the documentary image, he quotes Duchamp’s reply to a question from Stieglitz in 1922: “You know exactly what I think about photography. I would like to see it make people despise painting until something else will make photography unbearable”. Jan Dibbets trained as an art teacher at the Tillburg Academy, before studying painting in Eindhoven between 1960-63. In 1967, he studied at St. Martin’s College in London where his contemporaries included Richard Long and Gilbert & George. In 1967 Dibbets was one of the first artists to recognise large-scale colour photography as a medium in its own right. He initially used the camera to create a dialogue between nature and cool geometrical design creating the seminal series of “Perpsective Corrections” before moving on to man-made structures such as in “Colourstudies”. Since then he has incorporated landscape, cupolas, windows and water into his highly individual body of work. His exhibition in the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1972 established Dibbet’s international reputation and he has influenced generations of younger photographers both through his own work and his teaching at the Düsseldorf Academy.
Info: Peter Freeman Inc., 140 Grand Street, New York, Duration: 5/1-18/2/17, Days & Hours: Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00, www.peterfreemaninc.com