During pilgrimages to his native Hale County, Alabama, William Christenberry has recorded the changing appearance of the region's natural landscape and vernacular architecture in diverse formats and media since the early 1960s. The work is shown for the first time at New York's Pace/MacGill Gallery, in an about to launch exhibition.
The exhibition, titled Summer | Winter, sees pairs of photographs paired to present juxtaposing views of the artist’s Southern American subjects in the summer and winter seasons.
His colour photographs of rusted signage, winding dirt roads, and the weathered exteriors of structures present, with formal simplicity, prolonged studies of place that chronicle the passage of time in the rural South of his native America.
Christenberry’s most frequent subjects, such as Coleman’s Cafe, Sprott Church, and the Palmist Building – often photographed straight-on and near the centre of the frame – here “assume the status of monuments of a disappearing past”, the gallery says.
While many of Christenberry’s images depict foliage and edifices in summer months, the works on view offer an opportunity to simultaneously study these same sites from a winter perspective.
Vegetation and kudzu become bare branches and bramble, and skies shift from blue to grey with the seasonal fluctuations in light.
Viewed collectively, the pairs of photographs can be seen as records of the evolving identities of Southern buildings and terrains at varying times of year.
William Christenberry, was born in 1936 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and received a BFA and MFA in painting from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
Since his first solo show in 1961, Christenberry’s work has been the subject of exhibitions worldwide. In 2013, Fundacion MAPFRE, Madrid organized a retrospective of over 300 of his photographs, sculptures, installation pieces, and found signs.
He has held teaching positions at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, D.C., Memphis State University, and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
William Christenberry: Summer | Winter is on show from November 3, 2016 to January 21, 2017, at Pace/MacGill Gallery, 32 East 57th Street, New York