• dicotyledon


"The dicotyledon, which provides the title of Renate Aller’s photo exhibition at Adamson Gallery, is a kind of flowering plant whose blooms come in pairs. “Dicotyledon” is not a selection of flower pictures, but it does include several pairs: diptychs that contrast urban and rural, or human and environment. Aller is known for austere seascapes, and there are a few of those in this show. But the German-born New Yorker has started to add animals and humans (all children) to her crisply detailed, meticulously framed compositions, and sometimes arranged the images to converse with each other. In addition to the diptychs, there’s a six-panel study of sky and clouds in which two squares are pure blue — both empty and saturated. Aller captures shimmering, gem-like moments, and offering multiple views only increases the sense that she has perfect timing."

Mark Jenkins, Washington Post – May 25, 2012

…Romanticism provides the background for Aller’s photographs. From Keats’s Grecian Urn to Faust’s “Verweile doch, du bist so schön!” and such latter day offspring as Bo Widerberg’s film Elvira Madigan (1967), “the Romantic agony” (as the cultural historian Mario Praz described it) has fed upon the conflict between passing clock time (chronos) and a more subjective or spiritual sense of duration (kairos). Indeed, for every Newtonian bid to measure the world with clinical detachment—from the Enlightenment, through the Industrial Revolution, and unto the virtual present—there has been a Blake or Novalis for whom, once the doors of perception are cleansed, that selfsame reality waxes infinite. In instances as various as Constable’s clouds, Turner’s seas, American Luminism’s preternatural clarity, Runge’s enchanted Times of Day cycle and Friedrich’s mists or mornings, Romantic painting explored this dichotomy, swinging between empiricism and the ideal. So does Aller’s camera…" read full essay

- excerpt from essay “Transience” by David Anfam for the forthcoming book (Radius Books) dicotyledon

The way we look at nature from a distance is similar to the way painters of the romantic period presented their work to the viewer. While our human desire is to tame nature, and our relationship to it is one of intervention and domination, our ambivalence with nature is reflected in the way we look at it. We use the landscape image as a mirror of ourselves—filled with illusions, desire, and nostalgia—and as a fulfillment of our idealized self. We expect nature to present itself as a stage set for our entertainment.

Playing with the effect of an image by putting together two visual representations, or a grid of multiple images, the viewer is asked to make the connection of multiple experiences. There is a similar effect in the linguistic world, where the placement of multiple words creates meaning depending on the placement and relationship of these words. There is no linear narrative. Reality cannot be found outside representation and therefore representation cannot be tested against the real. The search for truth is irrelevant and eliminates objectivity.

“dicotyledon” is an extension and a parallel development to my ongoing photographic project “oceanscapes — one view – 1999 to present” and supports my investigation into the relationship between romanticism, memory, and landscape—in the context of our current socio-political awareness.

Renate Aller

oceanscapes – one view – 1999 to present

…..chosen by Ross Bleckner, a painter known for canvases that hover between abstraction and representation, display an ethereal quality similar to his own, except in photographs rather than paint. Mr. Bleckner’s “Separated by a Curtain,” from 2010, is a large canvas with fuzzy concentric circles reminiscent of an iris and pupil. The three images from Renate Aller’s series “Oceanscapes — One View: 1999 to Present,” from 2009, are similarly spectral and evocative, with swirling masses of clouds dwarfing the slivers of sea at the bottom of the photographs…..

Martha Schwendener, The New York Times on exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum “Artists choose Artists” – September 25, 2011


The Washington Post

“In a love letter to Long Island, she returned, each year for 10 years, to the same spot on the beach. There, she trained her camera out to sea, capturing grand images of sky and water. Eleven prints on view at Adamson Gallery testify to her devotion. Aller treads familiar territory — you can’t help but think of Vija Celmins and Hiroshi Sugimoto — but her results are often remarkable. The sliver of ocean at the bottom of a fall 2006 picture looks like crinkled tinfoil. In spring 2007, Aller captured a wave licking the ocean’s surface like a cat’s tongue….”

Jessica Dawson, The Washington Post – September 24, 2010

The New Yorker

“This German photographer’s large-scale seascapes are all taken from the same location on Westhampton Beach, but they range from minimalist studies to dramatic views of storm Clouds and glistening water. Richard Misrach’s unabashedly gorgeous panoramic vistas of San Francisco Bay, also shot from the same spot each time, would seem to be the model here. Hiroshi Sugimoto ’s photos of sea and sky provide a more rigorous template, one that Aller honors but softens, primarily through her subtle use of color. There are no blazing sunsets here, only shades of blue, white, and gray – a cool, chic version of the rainbow.

Vince Aletti, The New Yorker – December 15, 2008


“…There are obvious similarities to Hiroshi Sugimoto ’s photographs and Mark Rothko ’s division of space, but Aller manages to avoid being derivative with hypnotically beautiful combinations of light and texture that meld abstraction with representation in arresting yet simple compositions…”

Nord Wennerstrom, ARTFORUM, Critic’s Choice – June, 2006

Recent Acquisitions

Lannan Foundation
Santa Fe, NM

New Britain Museum of American Art
New Britain, CT

New Mexico Museum of Art
Santa Fe, N.M., USA

Chazen Museum of Art
Madison, WI

George Eastman House
International Museum of Photography and Film
Rochester, NY, USA

Hamburger Kunsthalle
Hamburg, Germany

Yale University Art Gallery
New Haven, CT, USA
(from the Nancy and Robinson Grover art collection)