Written by Caitlyn Cooney, Curatorial Intern
Throughout art history, photography has often been the one medium holding its own standards. Unlike painting, drawing, sculpture, and the like, photography has carried the assumption that it is able to capture the “real world”, or that a photograph serves as an honest portrayal of what it depicts. David W. Foerster’s featured collection is strictly composed of photography. Within his collection of five photographs, four were created by Michael Kenna, a contemporary photographer who captures surrealistic landscapes and dream-like compositions.
Kenna’s photographs border on what we consider to be real or unreal, surreal or ordinary. His photograph Tree Canopy, Shosanji, Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan (2010) embodies the sublime, featuring a worm’s eye view of a tree canopy immersed in a deep fog. Though the subject is somewhat ordinary, Kenna’s vision and ability to capture the surrealistic elements of the composition pushes the photograph past that of a simple landscape, evoking an emotional, visceral response from the viewer.
When speaking about his interest in Michael Kenna’s work and his motive for collecting, Foerster stated, “(His) work attracts me on multiple levels. His capacity to simultaneously and mystically capture a moment in time and the life and history behind it is remarkable. My favorite Kenna quote directly speaks to this reality, ‘I try to photograph the invisible behind the visible.’ Through his lens he has the unique gift of embracing your intellect and heart, as he brushes your soul. In doing so each of his images reflect not only intrinsic beauty, but also offers a statement of grace.”
Foerster’s passion for photography lies in his ability to obtain an emotional response from something seemingly mundane, made extraordinary through the artist’s vision. The composition, tonality and framing of the subject allow one to become immersed in the scene, causing a surreal and sublime effect. Kenna’s photographs possess a sublime quality, serving as the very reason why Foerster connected with them on an emotional level.
In speaking about the way he experiences Kenna’s photography, Foerster stated, “The four Kenna photographs in this exhibit are my favorites. But every Kenna in my collection is a favorite. Each Kenna I have been fortunate to collect has captured me in that moment and continues to move me each time I view the image. It becomes a favorite because is some very real way I can see the invisible behind the visible.” Foerster collects his pieces based on the premise that he can experience the reaction intended by the photographer. Through this, Foerster is able to relate to the artist and the image on a deeper level than that of a purely aesthetic attraction. His definition of art becomes more than just the image, incorporating his relationship to the artist, the artist’s intention, and a greater understanding of himself.
The exhibition Collectors’ Choice: Inside the Hearts and Minds of Regional Collectors will be on view from May 17th to September 14th, 2014.
For more information, please visit the Cummer’s website at https://www.cummer.org/