Vancouver Art Gallery
The Big Picture

Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery Dates: 15 March to 1 September 2003

Reviewer: John Jane

The eighty or so works on display offer the visitor an eclectic photographic range in an exhibition functionally entitled The Big Picture. Wandering through the third floor rooms where the exhibition is shown there is plenty to view for both the ‘point-and-shoot’ enthusiast as well as the professional photographer.

The collection was in part a donation from philanthropists Alison and Alan Schwartz, but there are also purchased acquisitions on display. The show represents some sixteen journalistic photographers and photographic artists, covering a broad spectrum of work from the bleak industrial black-and-white pictures taken in the early seventies, to the enormous portraits by Thomas Ruff mounted in two-metre-high frames.

I found New Yorker Cindy Sherman’s untitled prints such as the work shown on the left particularly impressive, if only for the impeccable compositional style. But perhaps the most striking item on display is that of Leipzig-born journalistic photographer Andreas Gursky’s digitally enhanced chromogenic print ‘May Day III.’ Paradoxically however, his shot of the Hong Kong Port seemed lifeless.Thomas Struth’s picture of Giulia Zorzetti (seen on the right) and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia's Los Angeles street scene are fine examples of natural form photography.

We have tended to consider photography more as a form of apodictic record rather than a medium that expresses imagination. This exhibition will go some way towards dispelling that belief. Depending on one’s connectedness with this art form, its possible to spend half an hour or all afternoon surveying this collection, either way, go and see it all for yourself.

© 2003, John Jane