City Gallery

Past exhibition

Adrienne Martyn: Looking for the Subject

2 June–1 July 2007

Looking for the Subject consists of fourteen black-and-white photos that Adrienne Martyn takes between 1990 and 2005 as part of an ongoing project examining art galleries. It features three galleries: the Louvre in Paris, and the Auckland Art Gallery and the New Gallery in Auckland. The Wellington photographer digitally removes the art works in each shot, leaving ‘black voids’ in their place. In doing so, she draws attention to framing devices—architecture, furniture, barriers, lights, etcetera—and the way they inform the art-viewing experience. Looking for the Subject shows how art from different periods is presented, with the darker walls and elaborate ornate frames for renaissance-period art to the minimal presentation of modern art. The project also touches on the gallery as tourist destination. In Louvre 6, the Mona Lisa is depicted obscured by the lighting, distance, and reflections in its bullet-proof glass casing. It is the only painting Martyn chooses not to black out. By doing so, she conveys what many feel when they first see the Mona Lisa in person—disappointment.