How Marco Breuer Makes Photographic Art Without Taking Pictures

Untitled, 2013 Photo: Marco Breuer, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Are Marco Breuer’s artworks photographs? True, they are made with photographic paper exposed to light, but they usually display only minimal evidence of an image from life. He makes them instead by first flashing them with light to blacken the surface, then beginning to carve into the physical material itself: burning it, scraping it, even occasionally using his teeth on it. They are distant cousins of the manipulated SX-70 photograph or the photogram, that favorite form of beginning photo students in which objects are set on a sheet of photo paper and rendered in silhouette. Breuer, though, takes those techniques right up to edge of sculpting, heavily working his surfaces over and over to reveal the paper’s dye layers. Notably, he uses traditional photo papers, the kind that require a darkroom. In destroying them, he makes reference to the not-so-slow disappearance of analog film itself. (They bring to mind the liquidy “pulls” of Ellen Carey, which also deploy photographic dyes in unexpected ways.) The dense grids and patterns that result are a little bit Klee, a little bit Pollock, and altogether beautiful.

Marco Breuer’s work is on view at Yossi Milo Gallery through November 1.

Marco Breuer Makes Photographic Art Sans Cameras