The Beach - 2006
The New York Times
August 04, 2006
As viewed through the lenses of this show's 14 photographers, the beach is a funny, strange and sexy place. For Harry Callahan, its flat expanses afford material for his nearly abstract compositions from the 1970's. For others it is a good spot for witnessing the human comedy; see, for example, images of frumpy Coney Island sunbathers in 1938 by Yasuo Kuniyoshi and in 1952 by Arthur Leipzig.
Esther Bubley's 1957 shot captures Miss America candidates posing in swimsuits for their group portrait. For many of the show's artists, the beach is a surrealistic stage for the play of erotic desire. Joseph Szabo's comically poignant ''Lifeguard's Dream'' (1972) pictures a skinny man in an elevated lifeguard chair and four nubile teenagers in bikinis on the chair next to his but at an unbridgeable distance. Garry Winogrand's elegantly composed, overhead photo, above, from the 1970's of a woman sunbathing next to a luminous swimming pool projects a voyeuristic yearning so intense that it verges on the mystical. Tod Papageorge's uncannily lucid 1978 picture of a muscular man poised on the ramp of a snack shack with two nearly naked young women basking nearby is ordinary and mythic; you could title it ''Adonis and Two Nymphs.'' And Machiel Botman's nocturnal 1996 picture of a small child standing alone in a penumbra of artificial light with an impenetrable darkness beyond evokes the beach as a frontier at the edge of an unfathomable mystery.