Nobody, No Time!


Whitfield Lovell, Kin VI (Nobody), 2008. Conté on paper and wooden chain, 30 in x 22 1/2 x 7/8 in. Collection of Julia J. Norrell © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

With the provocative subtitle for this Kin and the symbolism of the chain cradling the female face, Whitfield Lovell explores the sense of alienation of the ordinary individual while also challenging assumptions about what it means to be accepted in society. Lovell chose to depict this woman because she immediately felt like someone he knew, reminding him of an older relative. “Nobody” is also the title of a 1905 song written by Bert Williams and Alex Rogers that was later performed by Nina Simone, one of the artist’s favorite singers.

When life seems full of clouds an’ rain
and I am filled with naught but pain,
who soothes my thumpin’ bumpin’ brain?
When winter comes with snow an’ sleet,
and me with hunger and cold feet,
who says “Ah, here’s two bits, go an’ eat!”
I ain’t never done nothin’ to nobody,
I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody, no time!
And until I get somethin’ from somebody, sometime,
I don’t intend to do nothin’ for nobody, no time!
When I try hard an’ scheme an’ plan,
to look as good as I can,
who says “Ah, look at that handsome man!”
When all day long things go amiss,
and I go home to find some bliss,
who hands to me a glowin’ kiss?
I ain’t never done nothin’ to nobody,
I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody, no time!
And until I get somethin’ from somebody, sometime,
I don’t intend to do nothin’ for nobody, no time!
Nobody, no time!”
–lyrics by Bert Williams and Alex Rogers, 1905

Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works is on view through Jan. 8, 2017.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem


Photographs by Sharon Core currently on view at the Phillips

My very first experience in a museum was, as far as I can remember, intimidating. I over-distanced myself from Auguste Rodin’s exquisite bronze sculptures for fear that I would fail to resist the impulse to touch them and get myself into trouble.

I felt a similar impulse when I ran into Sharon Core’s series of works in a second floor gallery at the Phillips today. Although the experience wasn’t intimidating this time, the temptation to touch the work was as hard to resist. This time, it wasn’t a sculpture; yet as solid and life-like. The photographs’ three-dimensional quality and tangibility tricked my eyes into thinking that what I saw was a real object.


Sharon Core, Peaches and Blackberries, 2008. Chromogenic print, 13 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 1 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift of The Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, 2015

I had to stare at the works for a while to decide whether these were photos or paintings; their subject, composition, and painterly quality instantly reminded me of still life paintings from the 19th century. As speculated, Core was inspired by the compositions of 19th century American still life painter Raphaelle Peale. By meticulously rendering details and emphasizing texture, Core overcomes the limitations of photography and captures features that would have been hard to see even in real life. In fact, the highly contrasting lights, vibrant coloration, and the lustrous texture of the objects are all pictorial elements that could have only been achieved through the labor-intensive process of assembling the materials and arranging the setting.

Across the room hangs a row of still life paintings by post-Impressionist artists. One of them is Paul Cézanne’s Glass and Apples, which is rather muted in tone with no striking tactile appeal. With the emergence and development of photography in his time, Cézanne would have found no point in creating a photo-realistic representation; rather, he was more concerned with capturing the very essence of painting and conveying his own perception of the subject.

Ironically enough, Core’s vibrantly colored, highly-staged photographs that imitate the style of still life painters predating Cézanne, hang right across from his rather simple composition.

As FotoWeek is approaching, come visit the Phillips and take a look into Core’s work that jumps across the boundary between painting and photography. What about Core’s prints is similar to Cézanne’s painting? What’s different?

Summer Park, Marketing & Communications Intern