Chicago's Past and Present

Opening tomorrow night, Nov. 12, at the Aperture Gallery and Bookstore are "two exhibitions exploring Chicago's past and present:" Michael Wolf: The Transparent City and Barbara Crane: Private Views, each recently released in book form. Wolf's photos -- featured on this blog previously -- are the more architectural of the two exhibitions; his camera captures the Midwestern city's glass high-rises and the residents within, while Crane focuses in on the details, gestures and bodies of street fair revelers.

[Michael Wolf: The Transparent City | image source]

Wolf is known for shots like the one above that crop out a building's context but manage to convey a great deal about a place. One would have a hard time confusing Hong Kong's and Chicago's vertical living, both captured by Wolf. But the show also features details, "fragments of life—digitally distorted and hyper-enlarged—snatched surreptitiously via telephoto lenses: Edward Hopper meets Blade Runner:"

[Michael Wolf: The Transparent City | image source]

These details send the voyeurism-meter to eleven. Feelings of "how dare he!" towards the photographer arise, but the viewer is also implicated in the prolonged gaze into people's homes, an irony in voyeuristic expression in the arts. To me his photos say something about the choices given condo-buyers in Chicago, mainly between this glass building or that one. Is that choice predicated on buyer's preference? On developer's bottom line? On qualities of architectural design? Of course a complex combination occurs, but one result is an opening-up of private lives to the other glass building across the way.
Michael Wolf: The Transparent City
Barbara Crane: Private Views

Opening Reception:
Thursday, November 12, 6:00–8:00 pm

Exhibitions on view:
November 7, 2009 – January 21, 2010

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
Between 10th and 11th Avenues
New York, NY


  1. Excellent Show. I saw it last winter in Chicago for the book promotion. The photographs are much more powerful in person, at large scale. Its like going to a where’s waldo gallery show.


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