New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Behind the Image
Marco Breuer
Nature of the Pencil
Reviewer # 1
Marco Breuer, “Untitled (C-1031), 2010”

Amidst the rage for abstract photography we are currently experiencing, the work of Marco Breuer stands out as perhaps one of its purest manifestations. Yet, no matter how abstract a photographic image becomes, the question of “what is it?” still persists; in the case of the current show at the Von Lintel Gallery the answer is simple: photo paper, a few scrapers and scratchers and (sometimes) light.

With the walls literally painted a chalkboard black, the show has a bit of an academic air. Breuer walks us through it with chalked arrows, signs and instructions. The conceit works because the images are a somewhat systematic examination of the basic nature of any photograph–the very emulsion it is embedded in.

The simplest expression of this is in two modest sized sheets of color photo paper: one exposed to overall light and developed, one left unexposed and developed (so one is black ,the other ‘white’). Breuer then scratched a series of long straight lines across the paper, causing the emulsion layer to buckle into an multifaceted, almost crystalline surface.

 by unidentified photographer.
Marco Breuer, “Untitled (C-1042), 2010”

We next see a darkroom experiment in which Breuer challenged himself to draw, in the dark, a series of straight lines through the center of a page of unexposed paper. The three pieces displayed show a singular inability to do this, while providing nonetheless a visually appealing network of lines, and a quick demonstration of the limitations of working in the dark.

The bulk of the show is then a series of scraped sheets done in the dark with different tools and to different effect. Color photo paper is composed of multiple layers of dyes, and with different tools different layers of color are removed. Of course it also helps that Breuer has a sure hand and knows how to make interesting marks across the page. Two final pieces come from a more traditional use of the darkroom enlarger, with filters placed on color photo paper and exposed, the edges of the filters then scraped away to give a rather decorative mosaic-like effect.

In the end the pieces shown here may be a bit restricted in their audience, but for those people who work with or are simply interested in color photography, they are an unusual, behind-the-image set of documentary photographs.

Marco Breuer
Nature of the Pencil

Von Lintel Gallery
520 W 23rd St.
Chelsea         Map

212 242 0599

Thursday, October 14 to
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Hours: Tues-Sat, 10 to 6