Barbara Vaughn

On the Surface
May 7 — 30, 2015

Ampeli, 2015 | Archival pigment print, ed. of 5 | 32 x 58 inches
Ampeli, 2015 | Archival pigment print, ed. of 5 | 32 x 58 inches

Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce “On the Surface,” an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Over the past several years, Vaughn has travelled the world, deftly capturing the surface reflections on different bodies of water and, in the process, exploring the parameters of vision and cognition. By zooming in on her subject matter, Vaughn excises any contextualizing visual information that might allow viewers to easily identify the imagery. This decision to root her abstract photographs in the natural world—an ostensibly solid, familiar, even immutable realm—allows the artist to cleverly transform reality, exposing its chimerical possibilities and unexpected underpinnings. Vaughn’s approach also allows her to freely experiment with and tune into pattern and shape, and color and hue, which shift dramatically depending on the waters’ relative movement and form the heart of her photographs.

Much of Vaughn’s earlier photographs of water emphasize sinuous, curving lines, recalling the biomorphism of Henry Moore and Jean Arp. Though this body of work focuses on such forms to a lesser degree, they nevertheless remain present as an important subject of inquiry. Vaughn, who maintains a longtime admiration for Alexander Calder, notes that Apokopes 1 and Apokopes 2 are both influenced by the modernist sculptor's recent landmark exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Both photographs mix Vaughn’s interest in voluptuous forms with the minimal, graphic quality, fluid lines, and aerodynamic shapes of sculptures such as The Big Ear (1943) and Trois Pics (1967), among other works by Calder.

As suggested by their Greek titles, the Apokopes works were captured in Greece, on the Cycladic island of Paros. Other locations explored in “On the Surface” include destinations as disparate as the Northern European canaled cities of Bruges and Amsterdam, Martha’s Vineyard, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Among all of these places, Las Vegas proved to be the most unexpected: “I discovered an entirely new palette of reflections generated by brightly lit hotel marquees in the man-made water features around the city.” These busy, boldly colorful photographs serve as a striking foil to the more graphic, black-and-white qualities embodied in the Apokopes works. The two lynchpins of the exhibition are Ampeli and Kyvismos, a pair of Cubist-inflected photographs that call to mind paintings by Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso—such as Grand Parade (1955) and Three Musicians (1921), respectively—with their hallmark fracturing and reunification of form. 

Barbara Vaughn was born in Philadelphia, PA. She earned her BA from Princeton University and studied fine art photography at the International Center of Photography in New York City. A former portrait photographer, Vaughn has photographed many luminaries in entertainment, business, and the arts. Her work has been published in numerous books as well as publications such as The New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Art in America. Her fine art has been exhibited in galleries in New York City; Sun Valley, ID; St. Barth’s; Quogue, NY; San Francisco; and Sonoma County, CA. This will be her second solo exhibition with the Dolby Chadwick Gallery.