Thursday, February 5, 2009

Male: From the Collection of Vince Aletti

Male: From The Collection Of Vince Aletticould be seen as a catalog accompaniment to a show of Vince Aletti's collection shown earlier at White Columns. The book can be viewed independently, as well, & along with an essay by Collier Schorr, it is a fascinating inquiry into the art of collecting.

The collection is distinguished by a general theme, masculinity as a site of desire, as well as what could be described as eclectic, "catholic" taste. Categories of quality or an established canon are second fiddle to a desiring eye which can collect great artist=photographers such as Peter Hujar, Bill Jacobson & Gary Schneider, as well as photographers whose work would be classified as outside an artistic precis, such as the documentarian Danny Lyon or the anthropologist Pierre Verger. The rule of thumb for the collection is a desire that is not necessarily explicit but exists through the eye of the collector. If there is anything to learn it is the anarchy of desire in terms of looking at images. Coexistent w/ any fine art images there is also panoply of beefcake photography - Bob Mizer's Athletic Model Guild, Don Whitman's Western Photography Guild, Bruce of Los Angeles - as well as anonymous porn, amateur snaps, boxing images, an amazing image of Lew Alcinder - I don't want to list any more as there are hundreds of sources.

I find most collections have a death-like aspect in trying to define a subject & contain it. Vince Aletti's collection has a much more dynamic aspect. Is it because it is both older work & contemporary too? High & low subjects? There is something radical & unfinished about the collection which gives it a vibrancy beyond conventional connoisseurship.

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