The first museum survey of landscape images by this important American artist, Voyage of Discovery: The Landscape Photographs of Ray K. Metzker will present more than 100 prints from a remarkable body of photographs created between 1985 and 1998. On view in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from November 18, 2000, through February 11, 2001, Voyage of Discovery will illustrate the extensive range of these creative investigations, most of which have never before been exhibited.
Metzker turned suddenly to landscape photography in 1985 during an autumn trip to Tuscany, where he produced a series of works titled Feste di Foglie (Celebration of Leaves). The artist's joyous response to Italy launched him on a subject he would pursue for more than a decade, resulting in one of the most poetic and varied treatments of this subject in the history of photography. These lyrical photographs are a significant departure from the bold, urban images for which Metzker previously had been known. Often choosing his subjects because he perceives them as metaphors for the human situation, Metzker has challenged his own limits in his landscape work and extended his reach far beyond traditional approaches to that genre, while creating work that can be appreciated for its beauty, technical achievement, and philosophical underpinnings.
In the early 1990s, the artist traveled to locations as diverse as Colorado, Wisconsin, Turkey, and France, where his exploration of landscape continued. The delicacy of line evident in the earliest Feste images gave way, as the work progressed, to more complex views that blur the distinction between subject and background. Since 1994, Metzker has worked almost exclusively in the Moab, Utah. Less intimate than the images at the beginning of the project, these recent photographs capture particularly dramatic vistas of western landscape.
Born in Minnesota in 1931, Metzker has made his home in Philadelphia since 1962. Prior to that, he studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Institute of Design in Chicago. The artist has been the recipient of many awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His work is well represented in museums and public collections in both in the U.S. and abroad.
Voyage of Discovery is the first in a series of exhibitions showcasing distinguished artists associated with Philadelphia that will be presented in celebration of the Museum's 125th anniversary in 2001. Also on view in 2001 will be retrospectives of the painters Alice Neel (February 18-April 15) and Thomas Eakins (October-December), the first major show of works on paper by the influential African American printmaker Dox Thrash (October-December), and the groundbreaking architecture of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (June-July).
Voyage of Discovery: The Landscape Photographs of Ray K. Metzker is selected by Evan H. Turner, retired director of the Cleveland Museum of Art (and director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1964 to 1977). It is coordinated for the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Katherine Ware, Curator of Photographs in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.
Accompanying Voyage of Discovery will be a 168-page catalogue published by Aperture that will feature 110 duotone reproductions made from the original prints. The book will include an essay and chronology by Dr. Turner which trace the importance of landscape throughout Metzker's entire artistic career. The book will be available for $50.00 hardbound in the Museum Store or by calling 1.800.329.4856.