William Christenberry

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9781931788892: William Christenberry
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Since the early 1960s, William Christenberry has plumbed the regional identity of the American South through his work in Hale County, Alabama, where he was raised. Although he is most often associated with--and recognized as a pioneer in--American color photography, he also works in an unorthodox mix of media that includes sculpture, drawing, painting and found-object assemblage. This comprehensive survey of his work considers all those practices together, and in doing so gives readers access to the full scope and complexity of his vision. In every medium, Christenberry's theme is unified: the history, the story of place, is at the heart of his project. His poetic documentation of vernacular architecture, signage and landscape captures moments of quiet beauty in a sometimes mythic terrain that, with its worn iconography and buildings turned ramshackle, evokes the form and power of the passage of time. Since relocating to Washington, D.C., in 1968, Christenberry has dutifully returned to photograph the same locations annually--the green barn, the palmist building, the Bar-B-Q Inn--fulfilling a personal ritual and documenting the physical changes wrought by the passing of a year. More than half the photographs in this comprehensive survey are previously unpublished, including new and vintage images and a stunning selection of never-before-seen Kodachrome work. An essay by Walter Hopps, the artist's lifelong friend and the founding director of the Menil Collection, who passed away in 2005, will draw attention as well.

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"His unmanipulated pictures, deadpan but memory haunted (with echoes of Walker Evans), are exquisitely alert to textures, colors and telling detail. His eroding structures can of course be read as stand-ins for human lives, from which they derive their deep poignancy." -- Grace Glueck --The New York Times

"A poetic documentation of vernacular architecture, signage and landscape. Christenberry captures moments of quiet beauty in a sometimes mythic terrain that, with its worn iconography and buildings turned ramshackle, evokes the form and power of the passage of time." -- Photo District News

"Like Walker Evans, Christenberry grasps the great paradox of the camera--that the most economical images can yield the richest complexities... His pictures are dry-eyed and straightforward, and all the more moving for it." -- Richard Lacayo --Time Magazine

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