It’s hard to imagine two more divergent subjects to photograph than architecture and professional dancers, but these are Philip Trager’s two specialties—and a retrospective at the National Building Museum doesn’t mind jumbling them together, placing images of stuffy New England homes side by side with twisting, airborne human bodies. The thematic linkages don’t always withstand close inspection—and the exhibit could stand to lose a few images of overly dramatic skies, trees bisecting houses and dancers in costume (the ones mostly in the buff are more notable)—but Trager’s diversity of tonalities is striking, ranging from digitally precise to dreamy, and he takes inspired looks at such oft-photographed landmarks as New York’s Guggenheim Museum and Parisian bridges. But arguably the most impressive image on display is a façade of an old city building enveloped by a stunning pattern of wavy reflections. How he managed to pull it off is a oddly pleasing mystery.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON DISPLAY MONDAY TO SATURDAY, 10 A.M.–5 P.M., AND SUNDAY, 11 A.M.-5 P.M., TO JAN. 3, 2010, AT THE NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM, 401 F ST. NW. FREE. (202) 272-2448.