Shop talk, answers to your FAQs, and a peek behind the scenes of an artist-run fine art gallery in Park Slope
Opulent, decadent, rich, over-the-top are just some of the words used to describe the French Ancien Regime Palace of Versailles. With Petits Fours, Amy Williams’ solo exhibition at the 440 Gallery, the artist examines the extravagance of King Louis XIV’s famed palace. On “learning” that the peasantry had no bread to eat, the young Queen Marie Antoinette famously proclaimed “Let them eat cake!” and so we shall through this exhibit, Petits Fours.
Petits Fours is a site-specific installation of gilt-framed photographs, gilt-framed mirrors, and a dramatic color of wall paint — all chosen to reflect and amplify the theme of the exhibition. The gallery itself becomes a petit four: a small, but rich confectionery. The show represents a stylistic breakthrough for Williams, whose principal focus has been on nature.
Williams hand-printed the photographs in Petits Fours and mounted them in vintage frames, which she meticulously hand-gilded. Williams continues to work with the traditional photographic darkroom techniques that predate digital imagery. Each photograph in Petits Fours was printed specifically for its frame creating of each a unique artwork, an unusual result from a medium that traditionally lends itself to the production of editions.
The photographs themselves explore the lush Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical interiors of Versailles filled with marble, crystal chandeliers, hand-stenciled walls, luxurious textiles. The inevitable presence of tourists at the site has been avoided in the photographs, leaving only the elements of the palace itself to be isolated and examined by the camera lens. These elements are captured by Williams in a state of pristine, golden “object-ness”.
Amy Williams has been exhibiting her work nationally since 1994, and in last year’s Son of a Beach exhibition at Galerie des Multiples in Paris. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, she earned her BFA at the University of Texas at Austin, and has been a member of the 440 Gallery since 2005. Her work is included in private and corporate collections in the United States and in France.
Petits Fours opens at the 440 Gallery, located at 440 Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn, on Thursday, May 24, and will run through Sunday, June 24, 2012. There will be a reception for the artist from 6:00-8:00 PM, Thursday, May 24. The 440 Gallery is in Park Slope, convenient to the F, M, and R subways. The gallery is open Thursday and Friday, 4:00 – 7:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM, or by appointment. Check the gallery’s website, www.440gallery.com, for more information.