‘George Krause: The Human Form, As Vessel and Art’

Local Arts Reviews

George Krause: The Human Form, As Vessel and Art

D Berman Gallery, through May 6

Not too many years ago, it was easy to look around our city and feel like Austin wasn't much of a visual arts town compared to Houston or San Antonio, let alone cities outside of Texas. Now, though, it is hard not to notice the flurry of activity in the visual arts. Austin has supportive local arts organizations such as ACA, AVAA, and Women & Their Work; imaginative genre galleries such as Yard Dog and Wally Workman; underground spaces such as Alternate Currents and Movements Gallery; visionary organizations such as TFAA and Mexic-Arte; and two full-fledged museums, AMOA and UT's Blanton. Despite the extraordinary challenges of working in the arts during Austin's transformation into a high-tech super-town, the arts are flourishing.

As a result, we're gaining more world-class contemporary art galleries as well. One of these, D Berman, is raising the bar for the quality of work shown in Austin. It is proving itself to be, in the best sense of the word, sophisticated: an Austin gallery worthy of the great art cities. Along with Norwood, Flatbed, Gremillion, and Ravel, D Berman demonstrates an understanding of the larger art world outside Austin and a commitment to introducing us to some of the best and brightest in contemporary art.

With its second show, an exhibit of images by George Krause, D Berman brings together a collection of work by one of America's greatest living photographers. Krause, whose career has spanned four decades, has shown his photos all over Europe and the U.S., and won nearly every award open to him. This show includes work from throughout his career -- from as early as 1961 and as recently as last year -- which is one reason the images have such an ability to surprise: They are all somewhat different from one another. Krause does not so much have a discernible style as an interest in subject matter -- specifically, the Street, Saints and Martyrs, Qui Riposa (tombstones and death masks), and the Nude -- which he approaches from various aesthetic directions. His images are formally stunning -- graceful, perfectly balanced, with sensual tones and bold contrasts -- yet never seduced by their own beauty. Instead, Krause searches for the complex emotional life which makes us human: in our sexuality, our cultural conventions, and our attitude toward death. The connecting thread is his sculptural interest in the body -- the human form as a vessel which contains our humanity and as a work of art in itself.

While you're in the neighborhood, be sure to take in the work of 14 local photographers in the "Nude Work 2000" exhibit at the ArtPlex two doors down. One block east, at Women & Their Work, you can also see Jill Bedgood's installation exhibit "Deadly Sins/Worldly Virtues." And if it's the weekend, you can head downtown to the Austin Fine Arts Festival, this year at Republic Park. Looking around, it's hard not to feel that more and more we are a visual arts town.

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george krause, d berman gallery, austin galleries, photography exhibitions

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