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William Eggleston, “Untitled, 1973”: While too many of the images in the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s retrospective of the famed Southern photographer were banal, his image of the corrugated-metal roof of a peach stand presented the perfect mix of down-home informality and ethereal beauty.
Charles Negre, “Chartres Cathedral, South Transept”: This photogravure from the 1850s, exhibited in the National Gallery of Art’s “In the Darkroom” exhibit (up through March 14), was monumental in scope yet highly detailed, looking far more modern than one would expect from an image created less than two decades after photography’s birth.
Edward Burtynsky, “Oil Fields #19a and #19b”: Burtynsky’s double-wide panorama of oil derricks, receding to the California desert horizon and spilling headlong out of the frame, offers a bracing combination of massive scale, fine detail, mesmerizing color, and almost fantastical subject matter. From the Corcoran Gallery of Art‘s “Edward Burtynsky: Oil” and featured on the cover of the exhibit’s catalog.
Philip Trager, architectural photograph: In his retrospective at the National Building Museum, Trager offers a photograph of a façade of an old city building enveloped by a stunning pattern of wavy reflections. How he managed to pull it off is an oddly pleasing mystery.
Ann Chwatsky, images of Arkansas swampland: In the Studio Gallery’s FotoWeek exhibition, the standout among a strong roster of artists was Chwatsky, whose wide-format landscape photographs of swampland in Arkansas were dreamily understated.
Read my essay on Washington’s best photography exhibits of 2009 here.