James Welling



James Welling (b. 1951) is an American conceptual artist known for his experimental and pioneering photographic practice. By constantly pushing the boundaries of the conceptual, aesthetic, and technical processes of photography, Welling helped expand the potential of the medium. 

Throughout his oeuvre, Welling has explored different photographic mediums including gelatin prints, Polaroids, digital prints, and photograms. He's worked in analog and digital, in color and black & white, and produced photographic images both with and without a camera. Welling's tireless exploration is driven by investigating the tension between abstraction and representation (or documentary photography).

He's employed draped fabrics, pastry dough, and window screens to play with color and dimension in his desire to engage the physiological capabilities of the human eye. 

Welling's seminal breakthrough occurred in his "Aluminum Foil" series (1980-81), wherein he played with the surface qualities of the common household item aluminum foil. The result was intensely-detailed, scientific-looking documentary photographs recalling detailed images of the moon, crystal formations, and other natural phenomena. 

This untitled work was created during the same time as his conceptual breakthrough in 1981. Like the works in "Aluminum Foil", this photograph is solely focused on exploring the surface of a household material - a dark, draped fabric. The subject and formal processes are inherently documentary, but the resulting image is a richly detailed, hauntingly abstract composition. 

This editioned work was created as part of a portfolio to raise funds for the not-for-profit organization Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS. Also included in the portfolio were works by eleven other artists including Jeff Wall, Thomas Ruff, Jenny Holzer, Andres Serrano and Sarah Charlesworth.

Welling's works can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), the Guggenheim Museum (NY), the Tate Modern (London), the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Whitney Museum (NY), among many others. 

Questions about this artwork? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720


USA, 1981

Platinum palladium print

Initialed, dated, titled, and numbered in pencil on margin

From an edition of 25

24.75"H 20.5"W (framed)

Excellent condition

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