Zoe Leonard, Frontal View, Geoffrey Beene Fashion Show, 1990, Silbergelatine-Abzug, 124,1 x 96,8 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

Zoe Leonard's Observations in the Present from a Particular Point of View

Zoe Leonard, Untitled (diptych), 2002 Diptychon, C-Print, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

Zoe Leonard, TV sets in store window, 2001/06, Aus der Serie Analogue, 1998-2007, Ca. 400 C-Prints + Silbergelatine-Abzüge, 28 x 28 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

Zoe Leonard, Untitled, 1989, Silbergelatine-Abzug, Unikat, 25,4 x 20,3 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

Zoe Leonard, Wax Anatomical Model, partial view from above, 1990, Silbergelatine-Abzug, 91,4 x 63,5 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

 

Pinakothek der Moderne
Barer Strasse 29
+49 89 23805-0
München
Zoe Leonard. Photographs
April 2-July 5, 2009

"For me photography is intrinsically about observation. It’s about being present in and having a certain perspective on the world around me. It’s not so much about creating, or my imagination — as drawing. It’s more about responding."

American Zoe Leonard (born in 1961 in Liberty, New York), whose works have been exhibited several times at documenta and Whitney Biennial, is one of the most exceptional artists of her generation. For more than 20years her photographs have reflected her cerebral roaming combined with carefully considered observations. On her forays through cityscapes and countryside she sifts through natural and cultural environments, urban spaces and museum institutions, searching for signs that reveal something about our social structures and their inarticulated contradictions.

Leonard is a self-taught photographer. She left school at fifteen and kept her head above water with temporary jobs. The focus of her interest is primarily on inconspicuous or seemingly trivial objects and everyday scenes which — with considerable tenacity and often with almost tender respect — she penetrates in such a way as to let them speak for themselves. Her focuses in collecting and representation is comparable to an archaeological dig with the help of which the artist attempts to appropriate and comprehend the world around her. In this way Leonard investigates intrinsically important topics of our times: she traces the consequences of globalisation on how we see ourselves, mirrors our relationship to nature and history, questions our approach to sexuality and explores subjects of colonialism, exploitation and expulsion. Her carefully minimalistic photographic style varies depending on motif between black-and-white and colour or miniature and almost life-sized formats, as well as between pictures taken from an extreme perspective which can seem like snapshots and those which resemble scientific records due to their formal stringency and perfection.

From 1998 to 2007 Leonard worked on Analogue, a long-term photographic project that now comprises more than 400 pictures. Taking her immediate neighbourhood in Harlem, Lower East Side in Manhattan, and later Brooklyn as starting points, and including places she has visited in Europe and Africa, she traces the demise of industry in the digital era and the loss of specific, local peculiarities to a globalised world in which visual signs have become increasingly similar. In keeping with photographic tradition of Eugène Atget, Walker Evans and Bernd and Hilla Becher, Leonard makes full use of artistic possibilities offered by documentary photography to capture relics of a changing world before they disappear forever, to protect them for posterity and to do the same for the technology of analogue photography that has long since been superseded. Analogue was first shown to an international public at documenta 12 in Kassel. A eponymous portfolio with 40 dye-transfer prints is on exhibit in Munich.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, Zoe Leonard – Photographs, with contributions by Urs Stahel, Elisabeth Lebovici and Svetlana Alpers, published by Steidl Verlag. Price: Euro 50.

The exhibition is the first retrospective of Leonard’s work in Europe and the only venue in Germany after being shown in Switzerland at Fotomuseum Winterthur and in Spain at Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia. Zoe Leonard redesigned the show for Pinakothek der Moderne to include some 120 works created in the past 25 years.

Inka Graeve Ingelmann is curating the exhibition in Munich together with Zoe Leonard.

Zoe Leonard, Anatomical Model of a Woman's Head Crying, 1993, Silbergelatine-Abzug, 42,8 x 30,2 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

Zoe Leonard, Mirror no. 2 (Metropolitan Museum), 1990, Silbergelatine-Abzug, 105,4 x 71,7 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

Zoe Leonard, Tree + Fence, out my back window, 1998, Silbergelatine-Abzug, 42 x 28 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.

 

Zoe Leonard, American flag sweater, 2001/06, Aus der Serie Analogue, 1998-2007, Ca. 400 C-Prints + Silbergelatine-Abzüge, 28 x 28 cm, © Zoe Leonard und Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln.