Saturday, July 19, 2008

the good life

while looking for a photo on an old post, i accidentally ended up on the website of the yancey richardson gallery, where i spent an hour on my birthday last year. the show advertised on the homepage is called "the good life", which seems so satisfyingly appropriate right now as i am feeling spontaneous and elated. better still are the photos i found.

Slim Aarons, Sea Drive, 1967, Kevin McClory and his wife Bobo Segrist in the "Amphicar" at Nassau

Lars Tunbjörk, Ransäter, 1991

Alex Prager, Susie and Friends, 2008

Massimo Vitali, Benicassim 2, Spain, 2007

Tod Papageorge, New York Nights, Studio 54, 1977-78

Larry Sultan, Untitled, from the series, Pictures from Home, 1985

from the press release:
The exhibition explores the concept of the good life from a myriad of perspectives, including work that looks at pleasure-seekers from up and down the socio-economic ladder, ranging from Tina Barney's scion of an aristocratic European family surrounded by old-world symbols of wealth and entitlement to Bill Owens photographs of self-satisfied suburbanites to David Hilliard's tableau of his blue collar kin enjoying an afternoon of donuts, coffee and televised soft porn. Sun and water feature frequently as ingredients in the good life for Aarons, Siquier, Tunbjörk, and Vitali, while Martin Parr, well known for his affectionate satires of the English, focuses on the role of libations high and low.

For Julius Shulman, Alex Prager, and Eve Sussman, the good life is embodied by images of 1960s California cool. While Shulman proposes modernist architecture as a vehicle for the ideal life, Sussman!s video The Aquarium presents the glass box as the stultifying container for a cast of characters caged by the trappings of style. Children at play, like those in images by Diane Arbus and Karine Laval, often seem to epitomize the good life with their freedom from responsibilities and time constraints. Childhood, however, is generally followed by decades spent working and sacrificing to prepare for that last elevated plateau of life – retirement. As represented by Peter Granser, Mitch Epstein and Larry Sultan, this might be spent floating belly-up in the pool, perfecting a golf swing or relaxing side-by-side in the familiar domesticity of the perfectly appointed bedroom.

Taking delight in life!s small pleasures and follies, comfort in suburban domesticity, or satisfaction in having arrived at a certain echelon of society, the pursuit of the good life takes on a variety of meanings as seen through the lens of style, era and age. The Good Life is as simple as the perfect burger, as polished as life in a glass box, as decadent as Santa in summer. It seduces with red nails and Budweiser, it leaps from the dock into the golden last light of summer, rests in the familiar glow of a bedside reading lamp, floats in sun city, dozes on a lawn chair, and sets sail in an amphibious car.

let's go see this show.

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