Michael Eastman

Structure and Color

New York

February 19 – April 4, 2015

Deco Stairwell #2, Havana, 2014

Portrait, Havana, 2010

Two Chairs with TV #2, Havana, 2002

Woman in Doorway, Havana, 1999

Bare Bulb, Havana, 2010

Prado Façade, Havana, 2014

Hollywood Theater, Havana, 2010

Moorish Façade, Havana, 2010

Isabella's Two Chairs, Havana, 2000

Green Interior, Havana, 2002

Two Red Couches, Paris, 2010

Piazza, Venice, 2008

Portici Stairwell, 2010

Mirror Grid, Milan, 2008

Globe, Paris, 2010

Palazzo Reale Reflections, Milan #2, 2008

Gehry #2, Seattle, 2011

Golden Escalator, Tokyo, 2012

Saarinen Arch Interior, St. Louis, 2014

Press Release

Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to announce our inaugural solo exhibition of recent works by Michael Eastman (American, b. 1947). The exhibition will open on Thursday 19 February and run through Saturday 4 April 2015.

The selection of large-scale architectural photographs on view were taken during Eastman’s extensive travels throughout Cuba, Europe, Asia and the United States. The exhibition explores the artist’s distinctive use of color and pictorial structure to illuminate disparate cultures and time periods.

In Eastman’s photographs of Havana (see illustration) the vibrant colors and architecture recall the heydey of Havana’s history, but are juxtaposed with signals its economic decline: a rectangle of fading where a painting once hung; crumbling plaster; and wobbly furniture that looks as though it would break if used. Eastman’s subjective use of color and structure results in a portrait of quintessential Havana.

In contrast, works made in Rome, Paris, and Milan are like time-capsules of information which signal the grandeur of European culture. Unlike the Cuban photographs, Eastman utilizes a soft and sensual palette that focuses on classicism and permanence of the architectural spaces. These compositions feature rich materials, trompe-l'œil paintings, long hallways, and plush, perfectly maintained rococo furnishings, highlighting the timelessness and prominence and wealth of these cultures.

Eastman’s photographic career began in the late 1960’s, when black & white photography was almost exclusively used for fine art photography. His style was greatly influenced by The Daybooks of Edward Weston and practicing Ansel Adams’ zone system. Self-taught and intrigued by surface, patina, and geometric precision, Eastman’s formative photographs were black and white pictures of abstract patterns he sought out within complex urban environments. But by 1982, once Eastman saw the pioneering color photography of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, he began to use a large format camera and color film, exploring a new realm of expression in color.

Michael Eastman was born in 1947 in St. Louis, Missouri, and studied at the University of Wisconsin. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the National Addy Award and a Paris Photo BMW Prize Finalist. His work is in numerous private and public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the International Center of Photography, NY, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Saint Louis Art Museum. His publications include Havana (Prestel, 2011), Vanishing America (Rizzoli, 2008), and Horses (Knopf, 2003), which is now in its fifth edition. He currently lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri.