John Cyr

Developer Trays

March 28 – May 5, 2018

It might be difficult to imagine a truly unintentional painting, let alone one that’s a photograph. But John Cyr’s Developer Trays, on view at Elizabeth Houston Gallery from March 28 to May 5, come quite close, notching up abstract expressionism a few degrees closer to its unconscious ambitions. If “form follows function” was destined to be the guiding light of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s careful typologies, then we might say “abstract form follows function” is Cyr’s own. His exacting typology of the developer tray holds the remnants of individual photographers’ printing methods in its traces—painterly expressions in scratches, stains, and patterns—on the surfaces of their unwitting plastic canvases.

The developer tray is the most unassuming of objects, and Cyr insists upon that quiet objecthood. Photographing in a uniform style, the artist is uncanny in his ability to capture its painterly abstractions and the materiality of its functional construction. This is a technique that, paradoxically, reveals the intimacy of personal artistic practice and the gravity of photographic history writ large. Cyr sought out photographers, some iconic, others virtually unknown beyond the hallowed halls of the academy, to capture a collective moment on the verge of oblivion. That moment, of course, was not slight… more

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