Exhibition: Jan. 25–March 17
Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery opened Friday, January 25, with an exhibition of photographs by noted architecture photographer Robert Polidori.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, and now a U.S. citizen living in Los Angeles, Polidori has photographed around the world during his 30-year career. This exhibit begins with photographs of apartment interiors in New York in 1985, when Polidori was first transitioning from film studies to still photography. Shortly thereafter he moved to Paris and began the series — which continues to this day — documenting the ongoing restoration at Versailles Palace. He has photographed some of the world's most beautiful, and also its most ravaged, sites: bombed-out buildings in Beirut; abandoned facilities in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone; and the streets and houses of post-Katrina New Orleans, where Polidori was once a high school student. Photographs from each of these places are included in the exhibition, the first comprehensive survey of the artist's work to be exhibited in the United States. To Polidori, these architecture photographs are “portraits,” bearers of the souls of their inhabitants and, for better or worse, a physical reflection of humankind’s greatest aspirations and its tragic shortcomings.
In 2010 the Grinnell College Art Collection acquired a photograph from Polidori’s Versailles series; that photo served as the inspiration for this exhibition. “I was surprised to discover that the broad range of Polidori’s work had been exhibited in his native Canada, in South America, and in Asia, but never in this country,” says Daniel Strong, associate director and curator of exhibitions at the Faulconer Gallery. Even more surprising, Strong said, was that the photographs featured in those past international exhibitions were still in their frames, still crated and ready to travel. Polidori kept them in a self-storage facility in Sun Valley, Idaho. “I expressed interest in mounting a show, and discovered that there were 58 photographs covering the artist's entire career, already printed and framed and ready to hang on the wall. It’s a curator’s dream come true,” Strong says.
Events related to the exhibition include:
- Opening reception, 4:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25
- Concert: Responding to Robert Polidori, 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26
- “Let Them Eat Cake,” a community day for people of all ages, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16
- “Team Rubicon: Military Veterans and Emergency Response,” a Grinnell Prize event with winners Jacob Wood and William McNulty, 4:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25.
- “Behind the Scenes at Versailles: Art, Theater, Opera, and Court”, a panel discussion, Tuesday, Feb. 26.
- “The Russian Meltdown,” a Faulconer Gallery talk, 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 12.
Monica St. Angelo will again offer yoga in the gallery at 12:15 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the exhibition.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated hardcover catalog copublished by Steidl, one of the world’s leading publishers of photography books. Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, assisted in bringing the exhibition to Grinnell.