Filtering by Category: John Chiara

John Chiara Price Increase

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There will be an increase of John Chiara's prices on 1 December, 2017.

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John Chiara,  Levee Road: Burkes: State Line , (From the Mississippi Series), 2014

John Chiara, Levee Road: Burkes: State Line, (From the Mississippi Series), 2014


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Photographer Spotlight: John Chiara


"photography is a process and it is a physical piece of art."

Since receiving his first camera at the age of nine, photography has been Chiara’s means of understanding the world, and his unique method uncovers hidden facets of familiar urban spaces by making the ordinary seem extraordinary. Exploiting the chance events of chemistry, using stripped-down components and extended time (as much as 30 minutes per exposure), and manipulating from within to cause scarring and degrading and aberrations of color and temperature, Chiara finds a kind of rapture in the very DNA of the photographic medium.

Read the entire review on lareviewofbooks

Artist News, John Chiara recently acquired for the Harry Ransom Center Photography Collection

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Look Inside: New Photography Acquisitions is UT Austin's exhibition of nearly 200 photographs The Harry Ransom Photography Collection recently acquired.  Spanning from post-war to contemporary photography, the collection is renowned and still growing, giving University of Texas Austin students a resourceful reference for their studies.  ROSEGALLERY artist John Chiara is among many to be bought to belong in the permanent collection.

Recent additions have strengthened the collection's holdings of works made during vibrant periods in the medium's artistic evolution, such as the American "photo boom" of the 1960s and 1970s. Look Inside showcases groundbreaking photographs by artists who transformed the medium during that period, including Thomas F. Barrow, Betty Hahn, Kenneth Josephson, Nathan Lyons, Ray K. Metzker and Keith Smith. The exhibition features important works by Lee Friedlander and Robert F. Heinecken, the first by those artists to enter the Center's collection.

Look Inside also highlights contemporary works that function in dialog with the Center's rich historical holdings. Featuring artists who explore and challenge the fundamental materials, processes and questions that occupied the imaginations of photography's inventors, the exhibition includes works by artists Marco Breuer, John Chiara, Chris McCaw, Alison Rossiter and Penelope Umbrico. 

The exhibition will be on view at the Harry Ransom Center 21st and Guadalupe Streets in Austin, Texas from 9 February until 29 May, 2016. For more information please visit their WEBSITE.


Big Town, Big Camera, John Chiara photographs New York for Exhibition, on The New York Times

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I wanted it to feel like a fragment of a memory,” he said. “It’s like the visual you get when you’re staring into space, trying to reconcile what you remember with what you saw. You don’t get the whole thing at once. You have moments of clarity, but it’s elusive.
— John Chiara
West 135th Street at 12th Avenue , 2016. Negative Chromogenic Photograph Unique © John Chiara, via Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

West 135th Street at 12th Avenue, 2016. Negative Chromogenic Photograph Unique © John Chiara, via Yossi Milo Gallery, New York


We can agree that New York has been photographed beyond comprehension.  The bustling city is a subject of the lens of countless photographers each with varying perspectives and unique approaches. Artist John Chiara is no exception to the pool of artists who work within the Manhattan perimeters.  But it is John's heavy lifting and elbow grease to make unique photographs the hard way that differentiates him from his contemporaries.  With two homemade cameras the size of kitchen cabinets, stocked with photosensitive paper, John worked throughout the city, veering up at the city's concrete infrastructure, turning the skies black and silhouetting the trees, fiery red and radiating with oranges, reds and greens. 

There’s no better way to fall in love with a place than to sincerely photograph it. The tone did change.

John Chiara's exhibition West Side at Tioronda will be on display at Yossi Milo Gallery until 21 May 2016.
Read the The New York Times article with an image gallery with 10 new Chiara images.



John Chiara "West Side at Tioronda" at Yossi Milo Gallery

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San Francisco-based artist John Chiara is premiering new work made in New York at Yossi Milo Gallery in Manhattan's Chelsea district.  The exhibition West Side at Tioronda is on view from 14 April through 21 May with a reception for the artist on Thursday 14 April from 6 - 8 PM.

"For the first time in his career, San Francisco-based artist John Chiara is working in New York, capturing Manhattan and the Hudson River Valley with his distinctive photographic equipment and singular developing process. In approaching two areas with undeniably rich histories as subjects of photography and painting, Chiara presents the familiar in unfamiliar ways, often boldly inverting color and abstracting the image by finding unique perspectives. Drawing inspiration from early photographers such as Edward Steichen, Chiara creates similarly evocative photographs that meditate on place and speak to the environment as it is felt, rather than seen. He extends the lineage of collective memory embedded in these locations with his own sensibility and vision."

For more information on John Chiara please visit his ARTIST PAGE.


John Chiara's 'In Camera: American Landscapes' on view at Next Level Gallery in Paris from 7 April through 4 June

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 John Chiara’s unique process of photographing landscapes is now on view at Next Level Gallery in Paris, making this John’s first european exhibition.  John’s giant cameras are self-designed and transported on a trailer, allowing John to simultaneously shoot and perform his darkroom work to create his unique one-of-a-kind prints.  The exhibition will be on view from 7 April through 4 June.

In Camera: American Landscapes will open on Thursday, April 7 at Next Level gallery, 8 rue Charlot 75003 Paris.  

All images © John Chiara

All images © John Chiara

Read the review by Tom Seymour on British Journal of Photography Online.

For more information please visit


Provocative Things: A Profile & Interview with Jo Ann Callis

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In the early 1970s, Jo Ann Callis left Cincinnati, where she had grown up, for California. Some forty years later, FotoFocus brought her back. On February 24, 2016, she gave a lecture—really an annotated slide show of her work—at the Cincinnati Art Museum as part of its Lecture and Visiting Artist Series, and the following morning she spoke informally at some length to Aeqai, both conversations generously arranged through FotoFocus. After her evening presentation, as an unofficial part of the celebration of her homecoming, a group of Cincinnatians who had gone to Walnut Hills High School with her crowded around to swap stories and memories. (One was Louis Sirkin, the First Amendment lawyer who, some two decades after Callis left town came to prominence by defending the Contemporary Arts Center in the Mapplethorpe trial. Callis remembered him fondly: “We were in the same Chemistry class. But we never went out.”) Callis, a pioneer of color photography and a leader in the Fabricated Photograph movement of the 1970s and 80s, has some deep professional roots in Cincinnati, where one of her first solo shows was mounted by the Contemporary Arts Center in 1983. Looking over Cincinnati’s downtown revival the following morning, Callis was only moderately interested in how the city had changed in the intervening decades. She was eager to walk from her hotel to the Taft Museum and to renew her acquaintance with one thing you can get in the Midwest that she can’t see in California. “Oh good!” she said: “it’s snowing!”

Jo Ann Callis, “Woman Twirling” (1985)

Jo Ann Callis, “Woman Twirling” (1985)

Callis has been in the news for the 2014 publication of Other Rooms, an anthology of what she had originally called her fetish photographs from the mid-1970s, now sumptuously printed by Aperture with an introductory essay by Francine Prose. The work garnered much praise and raised some eyebrows. Callis’s sensibility might be described as a heady blend of the mischievous and the prim. At the Museum, she said of one of her photographs that “it looks like a bordello to me. Or what I imagine a bordello to be like.” Up till now, most people had thought of Callis’s oeuvre as being both elegant and mysterious, characterized by sparse, finely-staged photographs of rooms subject to questionable degrees of order and human control. In the title picture to her 1999 exhibition at the Getty “Woman Twirling” (1985), a woman spins close to the corner of a nearly empty room. She is little more than a skirt and a blur. In the foreground, a lamp sits on a small round table, its base made of carved wood, depicting a couple melting into each other in an embrace.  While the twirling woman might be celebrating, she seems in a frenzy. In her Museum talk, Callis calls attention to her “repetitive action”: this, she says, is a sort of “madness.” What exactly are we witnessing? Like a lot of Callis’s images, it borders on the political, raising questions about women’s roles in our culture and their responses to those roles. And like a lot of her images, it shares some of the wild logic of a dream. But if so, whose?

Jo Ann Callis, “Woman with Black Line” (1976-77)

Francine Prose, in her excellent introductory essay to Other Rooms, observes that Callis’s photographs are “rich in erotic possibilities,” though it is worth noting that this is not quite the same as saying that they are richly erotic. The pictures are smart and telling, but they are certainly not depictions of—or incitements to—pleasure. In speaking of her work, Callis begins by asserting her formalist credentials: “I wanted my pictures to be constructed formally, and to be kind of tight.” Francine Prose wonders “what is so erotic” about these photographs? What “about a dark line, like the seam of an old-fashioned stocking, drawn from the top of a woman’s head straight down the length of her spine?” Prose’s answer begins with imagining the sort of scenario of sexual play that produces such a mark: “it’s something the woman is unlikely to be able to do on her own….We wonder: at what point does a lover feel comfortable enough to say, Want to know what I really like?…At what point in the discovery of desire does a woman realize that is what she wants?” Callis explains a different sort of origin for the picture: “It started with the feeling of a bowling bowl on a pillow.” In describing “Hands on Ankles,” Prose asks “How many of us could have predicted that a pair of hands, grasping a woman’s ankles, could be as charged with emotion as hands joined in prayer, in this case before the altar of the woman’s shoes?” Callis explained that she was drawn to “the way the heels dug into the chair.” She values “that moment of a little tension” because “the hands make it precarious,” and then noted “I felt the shadows were good.” She is perhaps the opposite of another photographic formalist of the 1970s, Robert Mapplethorpe, who sought prurience everywhere but actually captured it only fitfully; Callis was uninterested in prurience and found signs of it all over.

Jo Ann Callis, “Hands on Ankles” (1976-77)

Jo Ann Callis, “Hands on Ankles” (1976-77)

For complete read please visit: AEQAI

The Tidings Reviews John Chiara's "Mississippi"

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The Otherworldly Photography of John Chiara
August 6, 2015
by Heather King

I first encountered the work of San Francisco-based photographer John Chiara at a current exhibition at the Getty: Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography.

Chiara’s cameras are old-school: a box with a lens. They’re also huge. He makes them himself and transports them on a custom-made flatbed trailer.

“Basically I have to find someplace I can roll up, parallel park and somehow get the camera in a position to take a photograph.”

He literally climbs inside the camera, which he affectionately describes as a “suffocation box.” "I’ve kind of made photography as labor intensive as I think it could be.” He usually manages but one photo a day.

He uses no light meter, no stopwatch, no film. The images, printed directly onto photographic paper, leave serendipitous traces of the process: striations, spots, tiny messages from afar that could be rogue birds, random UFOs or lost mosquitos that bumbled into the suffocation box.

He’s done series on the Bay Area, the Northern California Coast and Los Angeles.  

Recently, he spent a year traveling back and forth to Mississippi, absorbing its folklore, its people, its fields, streets, deltas.  

The result is a solo show — Mississippi — at Bergamot Station’s ROSEGALLERY through Sept. 5.

Chiara likes to frame views that aren’t necessarily “grand” or “picturesque.”  The photos, taken during 2013-2014, contain no antebellum plantations, no Spanish moss, no former lynching sites.

“I find myself photographing the way the light is hitting the inner branches of trees at a particular moment. Because I thought I saw history in there … I sensed meaning in its reflection of this place.”

The works in Mississippi are big: 30 to 53 inches wide, 28 to 53 inches tall.

The colors are pale mauve, milky sea green, mother of pearl, dove gray, saturated gold, incandescent sapphire, flashes of pure white light exploding from an “ordinary” stand of trees, a “humdrum” dirt road.  

The edges of the photos are irregular, meandering, as if cut by a child trying out scissors for the first time. Many bear the image of wide swaths of cellophane tape, tangled in places, the lovely transparencies darker when doubled, like the wings of dragonflies. And who knew you could get lost in the beauty of a pattern of trapped air bubbles?

There are no humans. Humans would be out of place. But humans hover mute just outside camera range; their presence sensed if not felt.

Martin Luther King at de Soto is all angles: a faded asphalt parking lot, a washed-out sky, a white wall with the outline of what may or may not be a human torso.

In Highway 1 at Friar’s Point, North, two (at least) exposures are overlain: the upper one paler, the lower, brighter one out of focus. Swaths of trees, partly shrouded in shadow, recede to wraith-like branches dissolving into the sky.

A diaphanous American flag in Sanderson at Corporation dissolves, goes up in smoke, topples into an amethyst sky. At bottom left levitates a small ghostly blue-green half-globe: a new planet? In the background flit tiny protoplasmic blobs of hot pink, jet-black sunspots, an electric-blue amoeba.

The sky-obsessed images in Mississippi somehow remind me of J.M.W. Turner’s broodingly majestic sea paintings.

Or maybe they’re more like mirrors.

What’s the big deal? you ask at first glance of Delta at 1st West. A washed-out, over-exposed photo of the kind of industrial urban landscape we’ve seen so much of we tend to subconsciously block it out: not beautiful, not noteworthy, not interesting. A no-man’s land — L.A. is full of them — in which stolen goods get fenced and cars get rebuilt.

Then you see the composition is weirdly arresting: the poignant geometry of a garden-variety grouping of telephone poles; a nimbus of otherworldly light settling gently, like a flying saucer, on an aluminum roof. This moment in time. This eye, this angle, this cosmos, this sun.  

Or as Chiara describes his work: “The blended character of memory in relation to specific moments or places.”

Standing before Old River Road at US 1, 2013, I wonder: Did I forget my glasses? Am I looking at a reflection of trees in a pond? Was this photo taken by God? A sense of vertigo, skewed perception, entering into or lifting off into another world.

Chiara’s photos evoke terror in the original sense of the word:  awe, fear and the urge to fall to our knees before what is unknowable.

In Old Levee at Burkee, 2014, a stubbly brown field with a stand of bare trees manages to spawn an air of clownish menace crossed with archangelic hope.

I’m not quite sure, if I entered those woods, whether I’d find a bloody crime scene, or Jesus, who would call me by name and give me the verdict on whether I’m to go with the sheep or the goats.  

Peter, James and John climbed Mount Tabor. But Chiara’s work reminds us that if we only have eyes to see, the whole world — every inch — is transfigured with tragicomic meaning and mystery.

John Chiara: 'Mississippi' is at the ROSEGALLERY through Sept. 5.
Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Avenue, G-5, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 

Source: Courtesy of The Tidings