Jim Krantz: “The Way of the West”
Jim Krantz – The Way of the West. Opening November 30.
Danziger Gallery is pleased to present the first Miami exhibition of photographs by Jim Krantz at The Gallery at The Betsy Hotel. Under the ownership of photography collector Lesley Goldwasser The Betsy has had a longtime commitment to photography displaying photographs in their gallery on Collins Avenue and 14th Street.
Jim Krantz occupies a unique place in the history of contemporary art for his imagery blending western landscape photography with the figure of the cowboy as depicted and romanticized in American popular culture. The technical underpinning of his work was established when he studied with Ansel Adams and Paul Caponigro, but perhaps more importantly, Krantz’s work reflects a dictum that he learned from Adams: “Technical proficiency leads to artistic freedom.” His range and versatility are his forte, working with ease in demanding and ever-changing conditions.
If Krantz’s work looks familiar, it is not surprising. Krantz, had been documenting the cinematic vistas of the American West for 20 years on commercial assignments and these much published images caught the eye of appropriation artist, Richard Prince, known for re-photographing advertisements and presenting the resulting images in a new “conceptual” context. Prince’s most famous series is his large scale reproductions of the cowboy images from Marlboro ads, and in something of an ironic compliment, when Prince had his mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum not only were Krantz’s re-photographed images included in the exhibit but the image on all the banners flying along 5th Avenue was also one of Krantz’s. All uncredited.
The photographs on view in this show – part of Krantz’s fine art practice - have an emotive resonance as they balance the cowboys and horses of the West with the vastness of the western American landscape. While Krantz’s work covers all manner of photographic genres his focus and deep connection to The West remains a constant.
Now living in Los Angeles and with a relentless energy and disposition for experimentation, Krantz continues to work on commercial commissions as well as personal projects ranging from photographing the inhabitants of Chernobyl’s Forbidden Zone, to an examination of the spectators reactions at a Spanish bullfight, to a portrait project of his Beachwood Canyon neighbors during the pandemic (or lockdown?).
Krantz’s art has been embraced by the worlds of fashion and popular culture with collaborations with Supreme, Adam Kimmel, Modernica Furniture, and Havstad hats. He has been honored by the American Photo Awards, The Art Directors Club, and with The Lucie Awards highest honor- the IPA International Photographer of the Year.