Ian Gittler
Motor Art
November 10, 2010 - January 5, 2011


The Robin Rice Gallery announces “MOTOR ART” an exhibition of photographs by Ian Gittler. An opening reception will be held on November 10, 2010 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. The show runs through January 5, 2011.

Ian Gittler’s Motor Art series-photographs of century-old engine parts, gears, sparkplugs, and brand tags-offers respite from the digital fetishism, overexposure and one-hundred-forty-character bursts of communication that seem to define our era. Gittler is no luddite, he loves his iPhone. But these images, often obscuring the objects beyond identification, take unsentimental pleasure in elements of weight, ground, volume and permanence that are more closely associated with a bygone heyday of industrialization.

These photographs are about a tangible physical experience, about moving parts. Gittler’s expert printing-his ability to see the potential in a frame and employ the techniques necessary to articulate that vision on paper-brings the work to life.

There’s wit in the brand iconography and a documentary component, but Gittler resists prescribing interpretations, saying subtext isn’t the point. His use of extremely shallow depth of field, intense contrast and exploded grain is muscular and poetic. But subtext is relevant. “IDEAL,” the invitation photograph, features a 1.5 horsepower lawnmower engine manufactured in 1924 that still works. And the brand name-Ideal-speaks to an attitude about fabrication and manufacture linking principles and pride with durability and sustained performance that seems like an anachronism today.

Although Robin Rice first approached Ian Gittler about his vector-based art on photo paper, the gallerist challenged him to create a series of photographs with that kind of machismo. As a native New Yorker who was marched through the halls of MOMA as a toddler, Gittler’s inspiration-his idea of macho-has less to do with cowboys and racecar drivers than with Franz Kline brushstrokes and modernist design. For Gittler, macho means the maximum amount of black ink that can lie across a sheet of photo paper. That kind of force. He narrowed his field of view for this series-often to a centimeter or two-in order to achieve a purely visual, visceral response.

Gittler titled the work Motor Art in tribute to the 1934 Museum of Modern Art exhibit, Machine Art. Upon its sixtieth anniversary, Phillip Johnson wrote of the show (and of his own essay for its original opening), “The thrust was clear: anti-handicraft, industrial methods alone satisfied our age; Platonic dreams of perfection were the ideal.”

Ian Gittler photographs, draws, writes, and makes music. He has created album covers for Willie Nelson, Roy Hargrove and Aerosmith, travel essays and advertising. Gittler received particular acclaim for Pornstar (Simon & Schuster 99), a critical documentary about the pornographic film industry, which he photographed, wrote, and designed. The book was excerpted in Rolling Stone and featured as a U.S. News & World Report cover story. Gittler, a master printer, spent part of his early career overseeing exhibition, advertising, and editorial printing for several legendary photographers. Gittler is a graduate of Bennington College. Recently he’s been lecturing and teaching at Parsons and ICP.

This is Ian Gittler’s first solo show at the Robin Rice Gallery. To view the exhibition, please visit http://www.robinricegallery.com and for any inquires email us at info@robinricegallery.com.