< Speculators

Bill Dane: An Avalanche Of Circumstance, Photographs Since The 1970s

Elliott Linwood
Four Walls Gallery, San Diego, CA (2008)

Four Walls is proud to present four decades of stellar work by the internationally acclaimed Bay Area photographer Bill Dane. Occupying the Main Gallery, this solo exhibition spans Dane's early black-and-white photographs from the 1970s to the large-scale color images he has produced since the 1980s. Samples from the artist's extensive practice of circulating his work in postcard format premiered in the gallery's December exhibition, Collecting Dust and Other Things: Ephemera and Documentation.

John Szarkowski, the director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1962 to 1991, and a pivotal figure within the history of the medium, was an early recipient of Bill Dane's ambitious mail art campaign. He curated the artist's black-and-white photographs as a continuous slide show in a darkened room at the museum in 1973 and championed Dane's work from that point forward. In addition to highlighting the mind-bending and incisive work of Dane, this exhibition commemorates the late Szarkowski's curatorial influence and honors his remarkable vision.

A native Californian street photographer, Bill Dane captures everyday odd juxtapositions found primarily in urban environments, as a hybrid form of forensic surrealism, where artifacts and artifice are re-contextualized through camera vision and filtered through the artist's complex perceptions. Although Dane prides himself in shooting non-manipulated imagery, Kenneth Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle has recently noted that the artist "has an amazing eye for collisions of information that throw into relief the artifice of photography and the folly of our desire to trust it."

Dane received Guggenheim Fellowships in photography in 1973 and 1982, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1976 and 1977. He has traveled throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, and Canada, photographing people, places and architectural details. Images from that period carry a documentary style of curiosity which widely catalogs the plethora of cultural constructions that Dane witnessed. Closer to home, walking the San Francisco Bay Area, Dane continues to photograph the world he encounters on a daily basis. However, his recent imagery increasingly provides hints and traces of the photographer's reflection within the frame.

Bill Dane has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art and de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ; and the Provincial Museums in Gigon and Granada, Spain. Dane's work is also held in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Provincial Museum, Granada, Spain; and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France.