Palazzo Strozzi

Library Metropolitan Club, New York, 1999 / 2010
Chromogenic color print
Courtesy the artist, Janet Borden, Inc., New York

Dining Room, Morgan Library, New York, 1999 / 2010
Chromogenic color print
Courtesy the artist, Janet Borden, Inc., New York

Member's Racks, University Club, New York, 1998 / 2010
Chromogenic color print
Courtesy the artist, Janet Borden, Inc., New York

Jim Dow
Installation view, Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina, Firenze
Photo: Valentina Muscedra

By taking shots that are as objective as possible and completely devoid of any human presence, Dow gives a concentrated and authentic view of the architecture, furnishings and frameworks of these backdrops of life. "My interest in photography centres on its capacity for exact description. I use photography to try to record the manifestations of human ingenuity and spirit still remaining in our country's everyday landscape." For one of his most recent series, Dow has been able to make his way into some of the most exclusive private circles of New York City. He selected circles that are still active and have a long and significant history behind, such as the renowned Metropolitan Club, which was founded in 1891 by John Pierpont Morgan, and once listed James Roosevelt and William K. Vanderbilt among its most illustrious members. Most of these circles require strict adherence to rules consolidated by tradition. Only those introduced to the club by one of its members can join it, a practice that contributes to keep it a kind of network; a specific commission will then consider whether the candidate is fit for acceptance. Though there are over twenty circles of this kind in New York, outsiders will rarely notice their presence. While they no longer exercise the kind of political influence they used to as seats of power and decisionmaking bodies, these clubs are now undergoing a new renaissance. An increasing number of politicians and businessmen are choosing to meet in their secluded rooms, which public opinion often perceives as places of intrigue and the setting for secret appointments of various kinds. With his descriptive and comparative photographs, Dow is giving a face to these exclusive meeting places, inviting viewers to join him in admiring the timeless opulence of their rooms. Architecture is the "primary and most powerful form of mass-communication"; at the same time, it is a mirror for power and its strategies, for the consolidation of authority and its effects on those who exercise it. "Architecture is power. The powerful build precisely because they are powerful. Yet architecture is also an expression of the capability and resoluteness - as well as resolve - of the powerful. Politicians intentionally exploit architecture to seduce, impress, and intimidate." (Deyan Sudjic, The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World, 2006).

JIM DOW (USA, 1942)
New York Clubs, 1998/2010

American photographer Jim Dow approaches places as meeting points bearing visible traces of people's mutual interactions. In different photographic series, the artist has portrayed American barbecue joints, pie and mash shops in London, tango halls in Buenos Aires, the workplaces of farmers, tinsmiths and iron-smiths, and baseball stadiums from one coast of the US to the other.

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Tina Barney
Christoph Brech
Fabio Cifariello Ciardi
Clegg & Guttmann
Nick Danziger
Rineke Dijkstra
Jim Dow
Bureau d’etudes
Francesco Jodice
Annie Leibovitz
Helmut Newton
Trevor Paglen
Martin Parr
Daniela Rossell
Wang Qingsong
Jules Spinatsch
Hiroshi Sugimoto
The Yes Men
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1.10.2010 – 23.01.2011