{ brad brace } on Tue, 13 Apr 1999 06:55:13 +0200 (CEST)

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Washington Post 4/4/99
Shots Seen 'Round the World
At Troyer, News Photos of the Horrors of War Make Compelling Art

By Paul Richard <SNIP> Time does odd things to objects. It distances, and
softens, and sometimes resurrects them. Not so very long ago the hundred
hellish photographs in "War's Alarms" were as dead as the old newspapers
for which they were made.

Pristine they are not. They're crinkled, retouched, tape-scarred things,
which once were news, and then were trash, but now are works of art, or
close enough, at any rate, to hang on the white walls of the Troyer
Gallery in Northwest Washington. They've been retrieved from the morgue.

Library is a word too posh for those corners of the newsroom where, after
publication, such black-and-whites were stashed. "Morgue" is more
suggestive of the squeaking metal file drawers, the brittle yellow
clippings, the rising dust, the slow decay, the overflowing mess. Lots of
newspapers have died. Who knows how many cartons of images like these--of
war in the Pacific, war in Finland and in China and in Russia and
Vietnam--have been rudely hauled away and burnt?

A handful have been saved.

Among the saviors is Jo Tartt Jr.

Tartt, 57, is an Episcopal priest. Once he was the rector of Grace Church,
Georgetown, but then, about 20 years ago, he felt a call to art
collecting. He's now a dealer in photography. He has a clear, forgiving

His images aren't pretty. Cruelty is their subject, and fierce
interrogation, and sweat-stink, and exhaustion. Many smell of death. He
knows that the condition of the news shots he has gathered, most of them
anonymous, could not be called "archival." If you turn these old prints
over you will find that they are littered with taped-on newsprint
captions, dates of publication, picture agency stamp marks ("Wide World
Photos," "Acme News," "Public Relations Division U.S. Coast Guard: Please
Mention Coast Guard") and grease-pencil notations, some now politically

Tartt collects them anyway. He seeks them out in auctions, and in rural
junk shops. "Whether this is art or not is a question of total
unimportance to me," he announces in a flier accompanying his show. "My
interest is in the indelible power to be found in a really good
photograph, and in the sensation of proximity. . . . Some of these
pictures will stick to your bones for a long time." <SNIP> <SNIP> This is
not, of course, the first collection of war photographs to be seen in an
art gallery. When the best of such exhibits--Frances Fralin's "The
Indelible Image: Photographs of War--1846 to the Present"--was organized
by the Corcoran Gallery of Art 15 years ago, the idea was far from new.
Both Mathew Brady (1823-1896) and Timothy O'Sullivan (1840-1882) are
nowadays regarded as important American artists largely on account of
their photographs of the Civil War. Carl Mydans, Lee Miller, Constance
Stuart Larrabee, David Douglas Duncan and W. Eugene Smith built similarly
strong reputations shooting conflict during World War II. <SNIP> <SNIP>
The Troyer Gallery, 1710 Connecticut Ave. NW, is open Tuesdays through
Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 to 5 p.m. Tartt's
photographs are for sale. They cost between $200 and $600 each. "War's
Alarms" at Troyer's closes May 1. <SNIP>

The_12hr-ISBN-JPEG_Project                     since 1994 <<<

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