Ray K. Metzker

(b. 1931)

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Harry Callahan (1912—1999)

Aaron Siskind (1903—1991)


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(1931– ).

Photographer. Known especially for the innovative practice of printing intricate compositions from multiple negatives, usually sections of contact sheets, he has also combined partially overlapping images and on occasion, has started with double exposures made in the camera. His composites stress formal values, but through repetition and variation they also enlarge the individual images' significance. His single-negative images are often somewhat more complex than those he chooses to combine, but they too demonstrate his interest in black-and-white form as a vehicle for exploring relationships across time and space. Born in Milwaukee, Metzker graduated in 1953 from Beloit (Wisconsin) College. In 1959 he earned a master's degree from the Institute of Design (now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology), where he worked with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. During this period he photographed the streets of downtown Chicago. He taught at the Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) from 1962 until 1981, when he returned for several years to Chicago. In the 1960s he began printing sizable contact sheets, creating image grids that at first glance resemble abstract patterns of light and dark. A closer look reveals small-scale human activity. These complex and fluid works emphasize transparency, simultaneity, and the poetry of everyday experience. In the 1980s Metzker began a landscape series of single frame prints, usually selected from intimate, undramatic corners of nature. In these he often exploited the camera's capacity to register selective focus, so that sharply defined elements contrast with vaguer forms. Although he had sometimes used this technique as early as the late 1950s, in the landscapes he achieved shimmering equivalents of nature's unity. A Philadelphia resident, he spends part of each year in Moab, Utah.

Subjects: Art.

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