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Gioco di Luce / Play of the Light
This online exhibition shows eighteen of the thirty-five platinum prints shown in the show at the Accademia Museum in Florence, Italy (May 18 - August 11, 2001).
Background to the exhibition
Kindly provided by the John Stevenson Gallery, New York.
The Accademia, home of Michelangelo‘s David, has recently begun to include contemporary art. The solo show of Cy DeCosse photographs was one of its very first exhibitions of photography since...well, since the Renaissance.
We are proud now to bring the works of DeCosse home again. Regretfully, we can‘t have the David. We can‘t fly banners with DeCosse‘s name in the streets, as they did in the Plaza San Marco (and the opening night reception that became a two-day party is now legendary). Yet we do have the very best of the occasion for you. We will exhibit thirty of the large format platinum prints - a retrospective of his work selected from the past ten years, and including new images which we have not had before.
The title of our DeCosse exhibition, Gioco di Luce (Play of the Light), is taken from the Accademia exhibition title. But it is also the artist‘s own tribute to a master teacher of his youth.
Born in North Dakota in 1929 and raised in Minnesota, DeCosse attended art school soon after his college graduation. In 1954 he won a Fulbright scholarship to Italy to study graphic arts. It was while studying with Renzo Maggini at the Instituto d‘Arte, Firenze, that DeCosse received his only formal photographic training. Maggini took the young artist under his wing, and shared his knowledge about lighting, how to produce such effects as back and side light, shooting in full daylight and by moonlight. From his study of painting, too, DeCosse evolved one of his signature elements: the use of hand-painted backgrounds in his photographic compositions, to introduce a sense of depth and special mystery.
Returning to Minnesota, DeCosse embarked on a long and extremely successful career as a photographer, a specialist in close ups; and then, almost forty years later, he transitioned into fine art photography fully. We discovered him soon after.
Those who have seen our previous exhibitions of the works of Cy DeCosse will know about the almost otherworldly beauty of his flowers, and the still life compositions that evoke Flemish masters. Since our last exhibition, DeCosse has been featured in two fine press books and four art journals. He has become the best-selling artist in our gallery.
In the words of noted critic and poet John Wood, from his essay published recently in The Gardens of DeCosse (21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography):
"Cy DeCosse, as dedicated a craftsman as a Bosch or a Manet, a Proust or a Joyce, creates his paradisal gardens of strange and beautiful flora from light and alchemical combinations of platinum and palladium salts, and from the baroque choreography of his own inspiration. And they are unlike anyone else‘s and unlike anything anyone has seen before. ...Apart from the image itself, the most striking visual features of a DeCosse print are its subtle nuances of tone and texture. There is a luminosity in the lights and velvet depth to the darks that can take your breath and that is simply not present in the work of any other photographic artist. ...DeCosse brings a virtually unheard of level of craftsmanship to his art. ...his prints are absolutely perfect."
And now, with the Accademia added to his credentials, we share the arrival of Cy DeCosse to the world stage. No one is more deserving.