What Neomodern Exhibits

 Irving Penn, "Frozen Foods, New York" 1977

Irving Penn, "Frozen Foods, New York" 1977

In the collection of photography I manage are works by artists including Jerry Uelsmann and Irving Penn, and I like their photos very much. But the question comes up: should I show them in the NEOMODERN gallery on Union Street? Similarly, I'm sometimes asked by other artists—painters and ceramicists—if we might ever do a show of their work.

Even though I like all this work, it's pretty clear to me that NEOMODERN is not showing any of these things. So how do we choose?

 Jerry Uelsmann, "Floating Tree" 1969

Jerry Uelsmann, "Floating Tree" 1969

Here's our exhibit guidelines. First, only photography. We're all about photography and we're only going to show photography. So if it's not photographic, it's not even in the ballpark. Next, even for photographs, none that have special effects. Additionally, no photos that are the result of studio work. We want the gallery to demonstrate the best works in one particular style—a basic "street photography"—not because it's better than some other visual style, but because it is work regular people can typically do with their smartphones. NEOMODERN wants to show artworks that consumers can emulate in some way, and that we believe has something to teach us about photography. So we show great photos, whether by Cartier-Bresson with a Leica, or my dentist with an iPhone, but only straight, candid, not "produced" images.

So we won't show paintings. And unfortunately, we're not going to show Uelsmann or Penn either. But it doesn't mean we don't love them.