Saint Louis Art Museum: Ray Metzker Donation
A set of more than 40 photos Ray Metzker offered in Art Museum St. Louis. Spanning three decades, from the 1950s to the 1980s, these collector and dealer gifts Ronald and Jan Greenberg strengthens SLAM’s collection of 20th-century American photographs.
The Saint Louis Museum of Art (SLAM) announced today that it has received a donation of 43 vintage photographs from American artist Ray K. Metzker (1931-2014). One of the most important American photographers of his generation, Metzker is known for his thorough exploration of the formal qualities of black and white photography. His technical precision and interest in the contrast of light and shadow results in compelling images that mix sharp description with abstraction. This group of works covers a wide range of his visual interests, from pedestrians and beach goers to architectural elements of street scenes in cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, from 1950 to 1980. Selected works from the prize will be exhibited at SLAM in the “Display” event. First: Exhibition of Prints, Drawings and Photos” from April 7th to July 9th.
These photos were a gift from a St. Petersburg collector and dealer. Louis Ronald and Jan Greenberg. Known for their commitment to art and modern photography in the United States, the Greenbergs have donated more than 100 works to SLAM, including 20 by photographers Arnold Newman and Bruce Davidson in 2012, and 50 by Aaron Siskind in 2020. They have also donated or provided funding to support the acquisition of many works of modern and contemporary art in various media over the years, from major American artists such as Lee Bontecou, Robert Rauschenberg and Richard Serra, and European artists such as Joseph Beuys, Chris Ofili and Gerhard Richter.
“We are very grateful to Ronnie and Jan Greenberg for their continued commitment to the museum, which was demonstrated again with Ray Metzker’s extraordinary gift of photography,” said Min Jung Kim, director of the Barbara B. Taylor of the Saint Louis Museum of Art. “Metzker’s work is noteworthy for his complex compositions, and adding him to our collection deepens our ability to present important American photography to our audience. This gift also underscores the importance of donors like the Greenbergs, whose gifts fuel our museums for the benefit of our communities.
“Ray Metzker is a photographer I have been following for a long time. He has a different way of looking at people and captures that vision with his camera. Jan and I had looked closely at his work in the past, and thought a museum would be an ideal location for this portfolio,” said Ronald K. Greenberg.
Ray K. Metzker was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1931. He studied photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where he studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, two of America’s leading photographers of the era. His work was heavily influenced by the Institute’s emphasis on exploring the formal qualities of black and white photography. After graduating in 1960, Metzker traveled throughout Europe, where he began to bring his own interests to his work, seeking complex compositions that often imbued simple everyday elements with unique graphic and poetic sensibilities. . Since the mid-1960s he has lived and worked mainly in Philadelphia, where he has also taught at the Philadelphia High School of the Arts, as well as at the University of New Mexico.
The Greenbergs Prize covers a wide range of Metzker’s work spanning three decades, with many photographs taken in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City, and with a particular focus on the 1970s series “Sand Creatures” and “Pictus Interruptus” from the late 1970s. These pieces complement the four other works Metzker already has in SLAM – from 1965, 1977, 1992 and 1996 – as well as the work of other Design Institute graduates and teachers, such as ‘Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, Linda Connor, Gyorgy Kepes and Arthur Siegel. .
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