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William Christenberry: 35 mm Kodachromes
Don Donaghy: Photographs, 1961–1969
to aug. 19
D.C. art enthusiasts unfamiliar with William Christenberry’s considerable catalog of color photography from the Deep South now have ample opportunity to see his work. His drawings, sculpture, and large-format photography are the subject of a survey at the newly reopened Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Aperture Foundation has published a new monograph on the longtime Corcoran College of Art & Design professor. If that weren’t enough to sate his fans and collectors in the District, Hemphill Fine Arts is hosting a previously unseen body of color photographs unlike any he’s printed before: a small series of 35 mm Kodachromes developed this year—nearly three decades after they were originally shot. In the ’70s, every point-and-click amateur took snapshots using Kodachromes, and Christenberry’s pictures using this technology lack the crispness and rich color associated with his large-format-camera works. Nevertheless, these images bear his unmistakable imprint: Old House, Near Akron, Alabama reveals the sort of decrepit structure that has come to characterize Christenberry’s meditations on the unique languor of rural Alabama; Havana Methodist Church, Havana, Alabama, by contrast, depicts a pristine, nearly featureless building, almost gaudy for its asceticism. (Lady Who Makes Egg Carton Flowers, Hale County, Alabama, is pictured.) Elegantly paired with Christenberry’s work—and contrasting it in nearly every way—is a larger group of black-and-white photographs by Don Donaghy, perhaps the least well-known of the New York School of photographers. These untitled gelatin-silver prints, taken on the East Coast during the ’60s—Donaghy’s prime—reveal a romantic America, whether through an image of an inimitably fashionable young man standing outside a malt shop or through one of a meatpacker’s union solidarity march. The sourpussed madams captured in their best pearls, gloves, and “crowns” on Easter Sunday and the Fourth of July typify the humor in Donaghy’s art. Christenberry and Donaghy’s works are on view alongside early abstractions on paper by Benjamin Abramowitz from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday to Saturday, Aug. 19, at Hemphill Fine Arts, 1515 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 234-5601. (Kriston Capps)