As They Were: American Masters Through the Lens of James Salter
The Armory Show, Pier 94
March 8-11, 2012
Read the review in Art In America
Read the review in Garage Magazine
Seen now for the first time in 2012, these intimate and penetrating portraits by the distinguished author of A Sport and a Pastime and Light Years were made in 1962 and 63 when Salter was working as a documentary filmmaker. Known primarily for his novels and prize-winning short stories, Salter’s early interest in film led to a secondary career in Hollywood where he wrote a number of movies, among them Downhill Racer, Three, and The Appointment.
Michael Dirda writes of Salter, “He can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence.” A similar power and poetic vision exists in these black-and-white photographs. The artists are shot in their studios, at work on pictures that are now considered masterpieces of the era. Warhol, fresh-faced and boyish, before frightwigs, shades, and downtown cool; Rauschenberg, handsome, serious, and intent, with a glass of vodka not far away; Rivers, the famous profile, glamorous as a movie-star himself.
James Salter’s life had been, almost from the beginning, outsized and not easy to classify. He graduated from West Point, served as a fighter pilot in the Korean War flying over 100 missions, wrote movies in Hollywood, and holds a place in American literature as one of the most respected novelists of our time.
These photographs, which add another stripe to Salter’s sleeve, have been paired with paintings of each of the artist-subjects, providing a narrative view of process and product, keeping, as Robert Rauschenberg once said, “history and love alive.”
Exhibition footage re-mastered by Bill Maynes