Lyle Rexer’s new book presents abstract work by contemporary photographic artists and places it in a theoretical and historical context. Abstraction has been a fundamental concern to photographers throughout the history of photography, and digital technology has further challenged the idea that photography shows us the real world. Many photographic artists are turning their backs on an objective approach, dispensing with explicit subjects altogether. They are using unusual photo techniques, both digital and chemical, to discover new forms of expression in an explosion of photographic experimentation not seen since the medium’s earliest days. Rexer’s book explains why artists such as James Welling, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Sigmar Polke work with both photo abstraction and recognizable imagery. Although there are many artists working in photo abstraction, there are still too few opportunities to see their work exhibited, especially in major museums. The book also serves as a stimulus to artists and a resource for their future work.
Lyle Rexer is a freelance writer, critic, and curator. He is the author of many books, includingThe Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography (Aperture, 2009), How to Look at Outsider Art (Abrams, 2005), and Photography’s Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Processes (Abrams, 2002). He has written more than twenty-five essays for exhibition catalogues as well as hundreds of articles and reviews for such publications as The New York Times, Aperture, Art in America, Art on Paper, Blind Spot, Modern Painters, Parkett, andTate ETC. He is adjunct faculty at the School of Visual Arts in New York.