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Hope Sandrow (1951–)



 

Hope Sandrow was born in 1951 into a Jewish family that was in a chronic state mourning over the premature death of one of her sisters. Her photography studies at the Philadelphia School of Art (1972) were formative, but what interested her wasn’t photography as such, but rather the way that the technique could be used to access another reality, which was more invasive and tangible. She explored a method in which several photographs were printed onto the same sheet of paper, where, in a manner, the proportions of the image would become one with the physical space. Heartened by the wave of feminism at the time, Sandrow embarked on her interactive series Men on The Street (1978–82), which as she herself said in an interview, involved “picking up men and asking them to assume outrageous poses on city streets. The landscape was a sculptural element; directing men empowered me.” In order to further explore this image of masculine dominance, she asked some of her male colleagues to pose next to the classic sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1988, she showed an exhibition in the avant-garde Gracie Mansion gallery in the East Village. This unorthodox gallery owner had opened an art space in her bathroom in 1982. The exhibition of cut-up nature photographs in white frames caused a great deal of excitement. However, just a few days into the exhibition period, the images began to fade. It was discovered that the white paint that had been used on the frames contained a bleach that destroyed the prints.

All the pictures disappeared. In her work, Hope Sandrow strives to create pieces that represent the very history of everyday life. She examines the concepts of nature, culture, art, identity, gender, science, and history, as well as the politics and myths of power.

In 1986, she participated in the group exhibition Directions at the Hirshhorn Museum. Lacking the established postmodern concepts we take for granted today, the curator described her style as “baroque”. The highly subjective point of view, the overloaded, winding compositions, and the powerful emotional expressions would become her trademark style in her later photo series, which played a part in the radical shift that was occurring at this time thanks to people like Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, and Nan Goldin. The pictures broke out of the image space and invaded reality.

”I want to present nature more real than itself... ...to playfully distort size relationships in a fragment of an infinite picture plane. Images are printed larger than life to change the viewer’s role to that of a participant.”

Collections: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC; Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC; Houston Museum of Fine Art, Texas; Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY.

 
Hope Sandrow, ‘Beetles, Leaf in water’, 1989

Hope Sandrow, ‘Beetles, Leaf in water’, 1989

Hope Sandrow at CFHILL

Hope Sandrow at CFHILL