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Joseph Bellows Gallery : Wayne Sorce : At Night / 1966-1971


Joseph Bellows Gallery presents the exhibition, Wayne Sorce: At Night, 1966-1971. The exhibition will run from April 18th through May 26th in the gallery’s Atrium exhibition space and showcase Sorce’s small, vintage, black-and-white photographs of a nocturnal Chicago, featuring the streets and storefronts, as well as the city’s late-night denizens, with a sense of melancholy akin to the paintings of Edward Hopper, and a fondness for signage, reminiscent of Walker Evans. “For me, photography is very important in that it exists because of everything else,” Wayne Sorce stated in a 1973 issue of Camera magazine. This is the first showing of these meticulously printed photographs since his monographic exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago from April to June 1972, and in John Szarkowski’s Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960, exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1978.

The very technology of photography contains an admission that the “world exists independent of human attention” —Sorce’s night views are, after all, a record of nature, of the world’s lights and shadows. A photograph provides, to use Szarkowski’s word, an “autobiographical” response to a realist situation. Szarkowski suggests that the photographic artist of the twentieth century finds himself, consciously or unconsciously, somewhere along a “continuous axis” from romantic to realist. Yet it can be argued that use of the medium, by its very nature, presupposes a “generous and inclusive acceptance of fact, objective structure,” and that the selection among these facts is the romantic, personal opposite built into any photograph of merit.

As preeminent curator Keith Davis states in his 1989 essay on night photography: “The appeal of nocturnal photography may stem, in part, from its deliberate, meditative nature. By temperament and necessity, the night photographer is patient, acutely perceptive and keenly sensitive to the reality of time. These artists also have a special understanding of the camera’s ability to record what often is not seen – or in fact cannot be seen – by the unaided eye. Night photographs remind us of the fundamental nature of a process once simple and mysterious: the rendering of images through the agency of light. By emphasizing so clearly the action of the light on light-sensitive surfaces, the nocturnal image provides a fascinating paradigm for the photographic enterprise as a whole.”

Wayne Sorce (American, 1946-2015) was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1946. He received both a B.F.A and an M.F.A from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1969 and 1971. He taught photography at Columbia College and the Art Institute of Chicago. His photographs have also been exhibited at the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His photographs are in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, the George Eastman House, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Armand Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.


Wayne Sorce : At Night / 1966-1971
from April 18th through May 26th, 2023
Joseph Bellows Gallery
7661 Girard Avenue
La Jolla CA 92037

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