Paris Photo LA: Lew Thomas: (S) Image Than Rather (S) Idea Bea Can Photography For Base A<——
May 1-3, 2015

Images / Press Release

Press Release

For the third edition of Paris Photo Los Angeles, Cherry and Martin is proud to present, (S) IMAGE THAN RATHER (S) IDEA BE CAN PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BASE A <——, a solo exhibition of work by Bay Area-based conceptual photographer Lew Thomas. The title of Cherry and Martin’s exhibition is taken from Lew Thomas’s 1972 work, NOTES, one of the ten or so pieces included in the artist’s landmark Reproduction of Reproductions series. Thomas’s phrase, read in reverse — “A base for photography can be idea(s) rather than image(s) — is a succinct expression of his practice; in particular, his idea that photography is about reading, rather than the nineteenth century gesture of "capturing" an image. The presentation at Cherry and Martin’s booth will include works by Thomas that have not been seen in over four decades; pieces he reproduced in his landmark text Structural(ism) and Photography (NFS Press, 1978). Structural(ism) and Photography rocked the photography world upon its publication. Part catalog, part instruction manual, part philosophic treatise, Thomas’s book, and the photographs included in it, outline a conceptualism defined by the structure of photography: how cameras work, what photographs do, and how we read them.

Lew Thomas played a vital role through keen and avid support for other artists. He curated the monumental Photography and Language exhibition at San Francisco's La Mamelle in 1976 and the retrospective Photographs and Words at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1981. Photographs and Words included several artists associated with NFS, such as Lutz Bacher, Peter D'Agostino, Hal Fischer, Donna-Lee Phillips, Sam Samore and Thomas himself. NFS titles co-edited by Thomas and Phillips, such as Photography and Language (1976), Eros and Photography(1977), Still Photography: The Problematic Model (1981), sought to promote an open platform to the diverse vantage points of conceptual artists and conceptual photographers alike, each of whom worked with photographs for their own reasons: Dennis Adams, John Baldessari, Ellen Brooks, Jack Butler, JoAnn Callis, Robert Cumming, John Gutmann, Robert Heinecken, Douglas Huebler, Meyer Hirsch, Steve Kahn, Barbara Kruger, Fred Lonidier, Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan, Muntadas, Al Nodal, Bart Parker, Joyce Neimanas, Allan Sekula, Cindy Sherman and many others.

Thomas's work is included in the collections of such museums as Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ); Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, WA); High Museum (Atlanta, GA); Menil Collection (Houston, TX); Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX); Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA); Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton, NJ); Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara, CA); Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California (Berkeley, CA); and Walt Disney Development Company (Los Angeles, CA).

(Cherry and Martin archive)

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Philip Martin Gallery
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Los Angeles, CA 90034