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Useless Beauty 


"Nothing is more abstract than reality". Morandi


This work engages in the century long conversation that photography has had with painting. Many of these objects are borrowed from the drawing classroom cabinet in an art school. This dialog has defined art for at least 100 years. The project specifically draws from drawing and painting traditions with a distinctively photographic way of seeing. The subtle folds of cloth or relationship between the objects are painterly concerns. The plane of focus and the cropping of objects is distinctly photographic. 


This project is a contemplation, a devotion of time, to the understanding of classical considerations of composition, light, shade, tone and form. By reducing these still lifes to their essential compositional elements, I am concentrating on creating purer forms. The objects are arranged in a unifying atmospheric haze, while the monochromatic backgrounds remove any suggestion of reality from the images. 


These images are inspired by the work of Morandi and Penn but with a decidedly photographic style of seeing. The use of the adjusted plane of focus enforce the photographic vision. These maladjustments are, something to be contemplated and foregrounded. While exploring the camera’s ability to respond to form the objects begin to dematerialize, their indestructible realness is never fully lost or betrayed. 


The use of an 8x10 film camera is the antithesis of the digital. Due to the use of Platinum Palladium printing the tonal palette is constrained to a few subtle modulations of white and grey which render the images in a subtle range of grays. 


These images are abstract, they do not pretend to realism, while remaining recognizable as everyday crockery. 

In this project, I allowed myself to make completely useless beautiful pictures. My goal is to create a simultaneous occurrence of ethereal simplicity and elegance.


Terry Towery 646.696.0964 -

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