The show opening today at the Tampa Museum of Art is a stunner. Tableau and Transformation: Photography from the Permanent Collection showcases an important segment of the museum’s holdings in 20th-century photography. Assembled by Joanna Robotham, TMA’ s curator of modern and contemporary art, the show focuses on photographers who have expanded the potential of the medium, going beyond mere documentation to create images which blur the boundaries between truth and fiction and challenge viewers to question what they’re seeing. Sandy Skoglund, in her eerie Germs Are Everywhere, places her landlady in a room tinted a radioactive green and dotted with pink whatsits; James Casebere constructs environments out of materials like Foamcore and styrofoam to create photos that have the unsettling allure of an Escher print. John Baldessari amasses multiple images into one huge frame; diving in is akin to watching a movie made of multiple jump cuts. Cindy Sherman, famous for self-portraits that stretch the very notion of self, is represented here by a transformation said to have been inspired by a Grimm’s fairy tale. And William Wegman’s beloved Weimeraners are at once dignified, disturbing and comic, photographed with the attention to light and character of a Vermeer. These are just a few of the approximately 50 photographs in the show, which date from the mid-1960s through the early 2000s and also include works by Duane Michals, Lucas Samaras, Andres Serrano and many more. It’s a testament to the depth of the museum’s photography holdings, enhanced by additional works on loan from the collection of Trenam Law. And with the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts currently displaying works by Sherman, Matthew Barney, Becky Flanders and more in the show Contemporary Performance in its home just across Curtis Hixon Park, it’s a fine moment for photo aficionados.
Tableau and Transformation: Photography from the Permanent Collection, 6/20-10/6, Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, 813-274-8130, tampamuseum.org.
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