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Elad Lassry

Los Angeles-based photographer Elad Lassry creates carefully crafted still lifes and publicity shots that are soothingly flat and blank, filled with eerily familiar typologies of colors, shapes, and subjects. They are a testament to how inured we have become to the cumulative miasma of advertising’s generic visuals – they are the Pop response to Cindy Sherman’s Johns.

Yet more than most of the post-Pictures Generations working today (some of whom are featured along with Lassry’s in MoMA’s upcoming New Photography exhibition), Lassry’s images readily engage with the relationship his viewership has with the objects being depicted, and not just the visuals that sell them. His photographs operate by the same logic that led Braque to move from landscapes to still lifes – that landscapes deal with the distance of object from object, while  still lifes work in “a tactile [...] a manual space” in which you measure the distance between yourself and the object. While Braque viewed this intimate association as crucial to the success of Cubism’s modernist agenda, Lassry’s use of tactile space extracts his photographs from the circular discourse they are in engaged in with both mainstream advertising and the work of 80s appropriationists like Sherman, Louise Lawler, and Laurie Simmons.

Indeed, Lassry’s work is not only about pictures talking with pictures about pictures, but also (and more importantly) about the relationship between the objects the pictures depict and the viewer seeing them. Prince’s Marlboro Men had less do with the cigarette as symbol, and certainly nothing to do with Marlboro as a company (they are clearly apoltical), than with the visual vocabulary that those ads, along with soap operas and pulp fiction, used to sell aspiration and fantasy. Lassry reasserts the importance of the specific object, whether it be lipstick and  nail polish, Asian trinkets, or black bras, in the construction of cultural identity. A somewhat paradoxical focus to take as the tactile loses its battle against the visual, but still perceptive. We still don’t buy our groceries over the Internet, and the computer screen can only show us the on-trend shade of red – it can’t apply it to our fingers. At least not yet. And all those mood boards out there still tug at our desires for physical goods.

Lassry is getting a lot of exposure right now – in addition his inclusion in New Photography, he is currently the subject of a one-man show at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, titled The Sum of Limited Views.

The Museum of Modern Art
New Photography 2010: Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry, Alex Prager, and Amanda Ross-Ho
September 29th, 2010 – January 20th, 2011

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
Elad Lassry: Sum of  Limited Views
September 10th, 2010 – January 2nd, 2011

Photography by Elad Lassry