James Casebere’s pioneering work, as a member of the Pictures Generation, presaged what subsequently came to be known as constructed photography. The models Casebere extensively researches and constructs explore architectural, art historical, and cinematic sources. Made of everyday materials pared down to essential forms, the models are subsequently carefully lit and photographed in his studio. These empty, abandoned spaces are hauntingly evocative and often suggest either prior, or forthcoming usage or events, encouraging the viewer to imagine a narrative, or otherwise construct a symbolic, emotional and iconic reading of the work.
Casebere’s early works are devoid of color and focus on the dramatic emotional impact of the work, much like early black and white films. In works such as Storefront, 1982 and Venice Ghetto, 1985 he eliminates extraneous details to create dynamic lighting effects which intentionally evoke memories and feelings triggered by the architectural spaces he invents. In the early 2000’s Casebere demonstrated his interest in a diverse range of iconic, international architectural spaces including the momentarily empty, but flooded space of Yellow Hallway, inspired by a stairwell at Versailles, and the traditional and ancient styles of both religious and vernacular architectures such as a Sienese palazzo in Sienna (Vertical). The most recent works in the exhibition were inspired by world-renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragán. These works incorporate Barragán’s sumptuous use of color, dramatic light and simple haptic, planar surfaces evoking a serene austerity reminiscent Casebere’s early series of work.