Large photograms by János Megyik

“Construction (1985)” by János Megyik, 1989 from Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute has a show of very large photograms by János Megyik (Febrary 3–Jul 8, 2024). NewCity reviewed the show, “Interdimensional: A Review of “János Megyik Photograms” at The Art Institute of Chicago“. It talks a lot about the process.

I’ll give you a shorter summary.

I love photograms. You place an object onto photo paper in a darkroom. Then you briefly shine light onto the object and the paper. The “shadows” of the object are left on the photo paper. It’s an incredibly fun technique to use. Locking these shadows into place is a lot like working with magic.

Some day I should post my photogram work from college.

In this article, I really wish they included a photo of the wooden sculpture. (The Art Institute’s exhibit page doesn’t have a photo of the sculpture, either.) Ah, Apollo Magazine has a photo of the sculpture.

Corpus” by János Megyik, 1988 from Art Institute of Chicago. Image courtesy of Janos Megyik

The sculpture is pretty much what you’d expect. Although it’s kinda strange how it’s attached to the wall. I might be wrong, but it looks like his photograms were made on the ground. If he made his photograms pinned to a wall, you would see the photo chemicals dripping on the paper. However, there’s no evidence of dripping in his photo chemicals.

Is the sculpture pinned to the wall in an effort to make it look more like an art object? If they displayed the sculpture on the floor, it might look like an object merely to create the photogram. However, Megyik started as a sculpture artist. He later transitioned into making photograms in an effort to translate his 3D works into a 2D medium.

Displaying the sculpture on the wall perhaps makes the statement that his sculpture is on par with his photograms. The sculpture is not subservient to the photograms.

Galerie Závodný in Czech Republic has a couple of photos up on their Facebook of the exhibit.

What if these were made today?

Considering the era of the 1980s when these were made, it’s interesting to ponder how these works would be perceived today, in the age of social media. Modern adaptations might see the sculpture and its photogram representation transform into entirely different entities, adding layers of meaning and effort.

For instance, the sculpture could look like a person. The photogram would transform into something else, like words. It would take considerable effort to make the sculpture look like one thing, and then photogram to change into another.

Megyik’s photograms are visually fascinating and enjoyable to explore. Yet, the evolution of art today suggests a desire for more complex transformations within the artwork, challenging viewers and artists alike to find deeper meanings and connections.

Transforming the sculpture into a completely different subject in the photogram would be surprising. Although, some might say it would be too direct and obvious. A parlor game. “Oh, look, the sculpture is a tiger. But the photogram created from the tiger is actually a baby.”

But it’s this level of intent that raises the quality of the art. It’s up to the artist to make the transformation into something inspiring and welcoming for the viewer to spend time with.

Side-note

I came across this review on NewCity, because I recently subscribed to their RSS feed for their art reviews. That’s how I get most of my news—through my RSS reader called Feedly. I have over 2,000 feeds that I follow, and they all get presented through one interface in Feedly. You can customize exactly the sites you want to follow. Anyone who wants to follow specific sites should use an RSS reader.

Feedly also has filters that can search through all your feeds. I have a filter to look for Art Institute of Chicago. Anytime the Art Institute appears in any of my 2,000 feeds, the article gets pulled into a special folder. With this filter, I can get news and opinions about the Art Institute from any of my 2,000 feeds. I’m excited to get more perspectives on the Art Institute through this filter.

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