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By Sharne Wolff
The starting point for this exhibition of photographs all drawn from the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection is a book published in 1928 written by German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966) and entitled Joy Before the Object. Renger-Patzsch insisted that the artist photographer had an obligation to “become fully conscious of the splendid fidelity of reproduction made possible by this technique”. He hoped the viewer would appreciate the special qualities of a photograph that were both intrinsic to the work and separate from painting. Indeed, the invention of the camera allowed a viewer to experience new ways of seeing.
Each of the photographs in this exhibition is the result of the artist honing in on an object – a thing which remains loosely defined in this show and includes Renger-Patzsch’s own Euphorbia Grandicorun (cactus), a collection of precariously-balanced crockery, a parmesan cheese house, some walnuts and even one of Man Ray’s well known Mathematical Objects. In all, over twenty photographs extend across three centuries kicking off circa 1854 with English photographer Roger Fenton’s, Bust of Homer, a side profile of the poet described as a ‘salted plate photograph’ and continuing all the way to 2011 when local Emma Walker’s colour Still Life with Objects a ‘rephotograph’ of collected 2D and 3D objects was made.
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