Airing it out

Works by Aschheim, Buck, Gottlieb, and Prine
By GREG COOK | November 24, 2009

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Andrew Buck of Farmington, Connecticut, finds a related kind of abstract geometry in his panoramic landscape photos, but he comes at it from the opposite direction of Aschheim. In "An Exhibition of Photography," a three-person show at the Krause Gallery at Moses Brown School (250 Lloyd Avenue, Providence, through December 4), his black-and-white "Ohio Horizon" photos adopt a short, wide format like two or three old photo booth photos arranged end to end that seems especially attuned to the resolutely flat, horizontal landscape of these farms in northwest Ohio, where his in-laws reside.

Buck documents landscapes reshaped by people. A semi truck stands outside a farmhouse in the snow. A mass of windbreak trees rests like a great dark cloud that has landed in the middle of a vast sea of low planted fields. Silvery silos, white barns, windbreak trees, and power lines rise out of a shimmering field of what looks like corn.

Buck's photos bring to mind panoramas that the late Illinois photographer Art Sinsabaugh shot in the Midwest in the 1960s, an inspiration Buck has acknowledged. Sinsabaugh pushed his compositions to strikingly greater extremes. But perhaps the main difference between their styles is that Sinsabaugh captured the rhythms of the land, trees, field furrows, utility poles, and silos, while Buck instead divines an internal geometric harmony of lines (utility poles, power lines) and rectangles (barns, trucks, billboards) in his compositions.

Buck's Along I-75 Near Bowling Green shows billboards advertising Hampton Inn and Days Inn standing amidst crops and against black trees, while a white farmhouse and barn anchor the right side of the scene. The signs are a reminder that the shapes of these landscapes reflect commerce spreading out across the land. At the same time, these images offer the bracing clarity of open spaces, big sky, and lots of air.

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