Carl Chiarenza (American, b. 1935). Noumenon 110, 1984. Gelatin silver print, printed 2001. George Eastman Museum, gift of the artist in honor of the museum's curators, directors, and staff members during his lifetime. © Carl Chiarenza.
Hi, my name’s Will Green, and I’m the curator of the exhibition Carl Chiarenza: Journey into the Unknown.
I first came across Chiarenza’s work while studying at Rochester Institute of Technology, where a massive, 14-foot wide photograph by him is on permanent display in the lobby of the Frank E. Gannett Building. This photograph was different than any that I’d ever seen before. It didn’t depict a person, a place, or any other subject matter that I could easily recognize. At first glance, it appeared to be little more than a disorganized array of various textures, shapes, and tonal values. Yet as I passed by it each day on my way to class, this photograph began to make more sense. I started to notice the subtle ways Chiarenza repeated certain shapes and textures over the horizontal plane of the picture, and how he deftly balanced light and dark tonal values to construct a composition that was, the more I looked, surprisingly harmonious. In short, as I became more and more familiar with this particular photograph, it became more and more interesting to look at.
I hope that you’ll be able to slow down and take time to explore the works on display in this exhibition. Follow along with this audio tour as we learn more about Carl Chiarenza, his photographs, and what makes them so special.
This audio is made up of clips from interviews Chiarenza did in 2000, 2008, and 2019. I’d like to thank Brooks Jensen of Lenswork magazine, Gabriella Chiarenza, and Steve Osemwenkhae for providing this audio.