University Art Gallery


June 23 - September 17, 2006

Organized by Davison Art Center, Wesleyan College

For more than forty years, Philip Trager (b. 1935) has created luminous and compelling photographs. From his evocative images of New York City in the 1970s to the elegiac portraits of the villas of Palladio in the 1980s, and the ever-changing face of Paris in the 1990s, Trager has captured the subtleties of our built environment. Since the 1980s, he has been one of the leading photographers of contemporary dance, collaborating with dancers and choreographers to create dramatic expressions of gesture and movement.

Trager combines an astute eye with technical mastery. He pursues thematic series, selecting the individual subjects for form and aesthetic impact. He catches the play of light or the geometry of a structure; lesser-known buildings are included among the most famous. To achieve the fine detail of his architectural photographs, Trager uses a large-format view camera on a tripod, carefully selecting and composing each image before taking only one or two shots. For the dance photographs, he uses a hand-held camera with a motor drive to advance the film rapidly, timing his shots with a combination of intuition and experience.

The exhibition at the University Art Gallery features prints from all the important series Philip Trager has undertaken, including his very early work and a late series of prints of his wife. Philip Trager is a master printer, and the exhibition features extraordinarily rich and detailed gelatin silver and platinum prints, as well as Iris prints created under his exacting directions.

Philip Trager has published many books over the years, especially on the topics of the villas of Palladio, the architecture of Paris, the architecture of New York, and contemporary dancers. A major retrospective catalog/book with reproductions of 156 images was published by Steidl, Gottingen, Germany, and is available at the gallery.

The exhibition was organized by Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, where it was shown this Spring, and Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, where it will be featured this Fall. Next year it will be shown at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The Library will be the final repository of Philip Trager's photographs and archives.

The Florence Gould Foundation provided major support for the retrospective catalog and exhibition.

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