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Two Bard Photography Faculty Members Exhibit Work At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Tim Davis and John Pilson Included in the Exhibition Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film, and Video on View from February 7 to August 26

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
Bard College professor of photography Tim Davis’s “Cornelia Rutgers Livingston” (2004) is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  Image Credit: Tim Davis's Cornelia Rutgers Livingston
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Two Bard College professors of photography, Tim Davis and John Pilson, have been included in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) exhibition, Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film, and Video, on view from February 7 through August 26. This exhibition draws from the Met’s collection to focus on artists from the last three decades who explore the secret lives of museums. Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film, and Video investigates the complex relationship between artists and museums: how artists are inspired by the collections that museums display and are challenged by the authority that museums represent.

Spies in the House of Art
includes Tim Davis’s “Cornelia Rutgers Livingston” (2004), a photograph of a portrait in a Connecticut museum from Davis’s “Permanent Collection” series, in which he photographed artworks from oblique angles so that museum lighting obscures parts of the image and illuminates others, changing the often-reproduced meaning and familiar narratives of these works. Made with a large-format view camera, and presented with no glazing, the images blur the boundaries between painting and photography. “All art ends up as photographs,” Davis has said, “and in a strange misalignment, most of those photographs depict only the artworks’ images, not the fact of their material presence.”

The exhibition also includes John Pilson’s “The Mic” (2007), a 13” x 19” inkjet print from his series “The Worgelt Study.” Martha Schwendener writes in the New York Times, “The museum appears in poetically distorted form in photographs by John Pilson, Tim Davis and Lothar Baumgarten. In Mr. Pilson’s image, a 1920s period room in the Brooklyn Museum becomes an environment caught in a time warp, an effect enhanced by the way the inkjet print moves almost imperceptibly from black and white to subdued color.”

Organized by Douglas Eklund, associate curator in the Department of Photographs, the installation features 17 works, half of which have never been shown before at the Met. Installation tours, gallery talks linking the themes of the installation to other modern and contemporary works in the collections, and teen programs will be offered in conjunction with this installation. For more information, please call (212) 535-7710 or visit

Tim Davis, associate professor of photography at Bard College, was born in Blantyre, Malawi, in 1969. He received a B.A. from Bard College and an M.F.A. from Yale University. His work has been extensively exhibited in the United States and Europe. Davis’s most recent body of work, “The Upstate New York Olympics,” is the artist’s personal and often humorous investigation of the cultural impact of competitive sports. “The New Antiquity” is a body of work Davis made over five years in the suburbs of great and ancient capitals, in Italy and China, and then along the eastern seaboard of the United States. The images portray a world where layers of time are collapsed. New buildings and structures and objects seem to be decaying into what Davis calls “a soon to be ancient past.” Solo exhibitions include Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz; Jay Jopling/White Cube, London; Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, Tennessee; and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois. Several monographs of his work have been published, including The New Antiquity (Damiani, 2010) and Permanent Collection (Nazraeli Press, 2005). He is the recipient of the 2007–08 Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize and the 2005 Leopold Godowsky Jr. Color Photography Award. His work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, and Walker Art Center, among many others. He lives and works in Tivoli, New York.

John Pilson, visiting assistant professor of photography at Bard College, was born in New York in 1968. He received a B.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.F.A. from Yale University. Pilson’s photographs taken from 1994 to 2000 while working night shifts for a Manhattan investment bank were published in the book Interregna (Hatje Cantz, 2007). Pilson’s transition to multichannel video installations in 2000 resulted in short films that use these corporate environments as backdrops for men in suits to behave absurdly or humorously, to misuse the space, and thereby to introduce into it creativity and individuality. Solo exhibitions include his most recent show, Long Story Shorts, at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery (2011); Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (2010); Galleria Raucci/Santamaria, Naples (2001, 2005); Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam (2002); and Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati (2007) among others. His work has appeared in the group exhibitions Open Ends: Minimalism and After at MoMA (2000); Venice Biennale (2001); Moving Pictures (2002) and Shapes of Space (2007) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; The Moderns at Castello di Rivoli, Italy (2003); Time Frame (2006) and September 11 (2011) at PS1/MoMA. Pilson has received the special prize for young artists at the Venice Biennale (2001), the Penny McCall Foundation Award (2001), and the Bâloise Art Prize at Art 33 Basel (2002). Over the past decade, Pilson has also curated projects at 1000 Eventi Gallery in Milan (2002), Tracey Lawrence Gallery in Vancouver (2006), and Independent Film Channel Theater in New York (2007). He lives and works in New York.

A photographer’s growth is the product of the simultaneous development of three interdependent factors. The first is the conscious or intuitive understanding of the visual language of photography—that is, how the world is translated into a photograph and how a photograph orders a segment of the world in the space and time that it shows. This is a photograph’s grammar. The second factor is the acquisition of technique. Without a technical foundation there is no possibility of expression; the broader the foundation, the greater the scope of expression. This is a photograph’s vocabulary. The third factor is the photographer’s work on his or her self. This entails overcoming visual and psychological preconceptions and conditioning, deepening and clarifying perceptions, opening emotions, and finding passions. This is a photograph’s content. It is the Photography Program’s aim to offer instruction in this three-part process and to provide a historical and aesthetic framework for the student's development within the context of a broad-based liberal arts education. Faculty includes: Stephen Shore (director), David Bush, Laurie Dahlberg, Tim Davis, Barbara Ess, Larry Fink, An-My Lê, Gilles Peress, John Pilson, Luc Sante.


CAPTION INFO: Bard College professor of photography Tim Davis’s “Cornelia Rutgers Livingston” (2004) is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.



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This event was last updated on 02-21-2012