Review: Clifford Ross’ New Hurricanes at Sonnabend


Exhibition Reviews


I always go to Sonnabend Gallery, because regardless of what is on view, there is great photography casually leaning against the walls in the back room, including some of Clifford Ross’ photographs of waves taken during hurricanes. This time, that work was actually the focus of most of the gallery (I still went to the office room to find some Elger Essers), new images (called “Hurricanes XLIX-LXXII), using what the artist, in the statement, calls a “new approach” that enabled him “to capture more dramatic moments, and sweeping views, while revealing more intimate details.” I never thought the older images needed such a new approach, and I failed to detect one anyway. Not that that is a problem - just like their older counterparts (and in a marked contrast to Ross’ submediocre Mount Sopris work), these new photographs of waves crashing on the shore are remarkable and wonderfully beautiful.

Unlike the earlier work - the one they had in the office, these new waves are printed on a somewhat larger scale, which, despite their technical quality I found a little bit less convincing. Bigger is not always better - what you gain from stepping closer to look at details is limited in these images, and the overall image really makes what you get out of them. If you don’t believe me, go to the office: When I visited, they had a couple older and smaller photos stacked up against a wall.

But this show is not to be missed - the experience of the rather stark gallery space with those black and mostly white images is quite something.