Hit Parade

The Classics exhibit includes a couple of examples of Gould's own work from this period. The undated--but probably 1950s--black-and-white "A Moment of Sorrow" is a portrait of a wizened old Jewish man who looks to heaven in anguish. "Monet's Garden, Giverny, France" is a 1966 black-and-white of the famous site. Gould continues to take photographs, and as recently as 1990 a photo of his--"Horse Corral, Valley Ranch, Wyoming," not included in the Golden show--was a prize winner in an international competition.

Gould's decades of experience have given him a special perspective, and it's evident in the works he's chosen for Classics. He selected photographs that he felt were the most important to the development of the medium. That's why he chose Alfred Stieglitz's nineteenth-century icon "The Terminal," an 1898 black-and-white of a horse-drawn trolley in front of a train station. Gould considers the pioneering street photograph one of the ten greatest photographs ever taken.

Another photo that Gould considers a masterpiece is one nearly everyone has seen--the 1941 black-and-white formal portrait "Winston Churchill," by Yousef Karsh, in which the British prime minister, standing with one hand on a chair, communicates a quiet confidence during Britain's darkest hour. Also familiar is the 1947 black-and-white portrait of the wild-eyed, fright-wigged Albert Einstein by Phillipe Halsman. Other noteworthy formal portraits in the show include Berenice Abbott's 1921 black-and-white "James Joyce" and the 1980 black-and-white shot "Miss Georgia O'Keeffe Standing, Abiquiu," taken by Colorado's own Myron Wood.

All of these portraits are traditional posed photographs meant to communicate the personalities of the famous people depicted. And with all the hubbub about his homoeroticism, many forget that another of Robert Mapplethorpe's claims to fame was how good he was with tradition-bound forms like the portrait. His 1986 black-and-white "Louise Nevelson," for instance, is not so different from Halsman's "Einstein," and it recalls the work of the mid-century masters.

Some of Gould's other chosen photographers take candid portraits that have an appeal that's different from their more old-fashioned cousins. Cuban photographer Osvaldo Salas reveals a personal moment between two history makers in the 1960 black-and-white "Ernest Hemingway & Fidel Castro." The author and the dictator are seen talking amicably in the dazzling afternoon light. Barbara Morgan's crisply elegant black-and-white "Martha Graham" of 1940 depicts the great choreographer in mid-dance profile.

Still-life photos are also part of the Classics show. They include the unforgettable 1930 black-and-white "Green Pepper, #30" by Edward Weston, regarded as a significant moment in the development of modern photography because Weston took a recognizable subject and rendered it in an abstract way. "Magnolia Blossom," a 1925 black-and-white by Imogene Cunningham, is likewise one of the century's acknowledged masterpieces.

Gould also includes photos of American scenes, among them O. Winston Link's "Hot Shot," a black-and-white from 1955 that surely qualifies as one of the most striking depictions of postwar culture. In the shot, a car-filled drive-in theater parking lot takes the foreground while the background is divided between the movie screen--which is showing a film of an airplane--and an adjacent railroad grade, on which a giant steam engine is speeding past.

One thing Gould's selected photographs have in common is that they actually live up to the too-often-used label "classic." Along with the shots by Link, Weston and Halsman are works by Jock Sturgis, Laura Gilpin, Edward S. Curtis and Mario Giacomelli. So pay homage to the great Hal Gould and don't miss this show. But hurry.

The Photography Show, through July 20 at the Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden, 279-3922.

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