In 1970, conceptual artist Mel Bochner created an art piece called “Misunderstanding (A Theory of Photography).” For this work, Bochner, who enjoyed nothing so much as interrogating modes of representation in art, commented specifically on assumptions about photography. The piece consisted of quotes regarding the medium from well-known figures and reference books, each handwritten on a 16-by-20-inch notecard. Marcel Proust’s bruising observation, for instance, was “Photography is the product of complete alienation.”
Another assumption came from the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Photography cannot record abstract ideas.” While not the actual impetus for “Tad Beck: Eyes of,” the current photography show at Grant Wahlquist Gallery (through June 12), this notion metaphorically throws down a gauntlet that Beck has been challenging for years.
The series of abstract portraits was conceived before the