Catherine Wagner. Going Deeper

Video clip of Catherine Wagner on the occasion of the exhibition Catherine Wagner: Paradox Observed, San José Museum of Art, April 5­–August 18, 2019 and the Museum’s 50th Anniversary Gala. Video by Justin Tran, No Friends Productions, August 2019.

No matter the subject, Catherine Wagner’s photographs penetrate inner depths. In her work, seeing is both sensation and a philosophical act. “I’m always trying to get at the essence . . . the very core of what I’m looking at,” describes the artist. “I’m always trying to move to that internal structure.”1 Structures, then, can be depicted in the cement foundations of a building, family photographs arranged on a living room wall, student desks in a classroom, and the surface of a shark’s tooth. However, as art critic Bill Berkson wrote of her photographs, “the subjects have a reflexive pitch, as if Wagner’s eye and her camera had set out to rediscover their own intentions,”2 so that despite the everyday character of the subjects themselves, Wagner’s photographs probe an unfamiliar interior—an unseen world.

  1. “Work in Progress: Catherine Wagner’s Flux Density,” Spark, KQED, San Francisco, posted March 25, 2011, video, 9:26 minutes, available at ↩︎

  2. Bill Berkson, “Catherine Wagner: Fraenkel Gallery,” Artforum, November 1989, 160. ↩︎