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More of FotoWeek's best: Shows that haven't shuttered

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

-- "James Osher: Three Seconds With the Masters" at Addison/Ripley Fine Art

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James Osher makes art by photographing art. His luscious, large-scale color photos capture great paintings on museum walls. Instead of approaching them foursquare and worshipfully, the way you would if you were illustrating a textbook, Osher shoots them at angles. He also lets them blur, as though shot on the fly by a tourist running after a guide. He demonstrates that there's more to how we see art than what it looks like. That tempts me to photograph Osher's own photographs, off-kilter and at speed. Through Dec. 5. 202-338-5180 or http://www.addisonripleyfineart.com.

-- "Dialogues in Mexican Photography" at the Mexican Cultural Institute

Two fascinating shows in one. At ground level, an exhibition of photos from the important collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City surveys the history of 20th-century photography in Mexico. It includes landmark figures such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Tina Modotti, who made major contributions to modernist photography, as well as representatives of the documentary approaches that have flourished more recently in Mexico.

Three floors up, one of the best commercial galleries in Mexico City, called OMR, presents the photo-based art of five contemporary figures. There are charming loops of video by Mauricio Alejo (a coin that seems to spin forever; a crumpled paper coming uncrumpled) as well as conceptual photographs by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer that explore our security-mad world. Through Jan. 30. 202-728-1628 or http://www.instituteofmexicodc.org.

-- "Economy of Scale" at Hemphill Fine Arts

A show in which photographers from all over take pictures of all kinds of subjects. In 1933, Margaret Bourke-White shot a helium airship in black and white. Earlier this year, local photographer Colby Caldwell took color photos of spent shotgun cartridges. In between comes everything from combine harvesters (shot by Erich Hartmann in 1959) to Cold War missile models (shot by Ralph Morse in 1971). The wall labels are as striking as the photos: Instead of waxing lyrical about these images as art, they give context for the real-world phenomena documented in them. Through Dec. 23. 202-234-5601 or http://www.hemphillfinearts.com.

-- "The Real Story of the Superheroes" at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts

In this charming show, Mexican photographer Dulce Pinzón shoots Latino immigrants in New York City as they get on with the tough jobs they often take on. But first she dresses them in the superhero costumes they merit. Window washer Bernabe Mendez, who sends home $500 a month, is photographed as Spider-Man. Through Nov. 28. 202-483-8600 or http://www.smithfarm.com.

-- "Portrait 2.0" at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center

Collector Michael Pollack curates a group show of people-pictures by some leading local art photographers. It includes formal portraits by Chan Chao of women in a prison in Peru, as well as Matt Dunn's snapshot-style photos of Washingtonians being themselves, compiled into an August Sander-style inventory. Through Dec. 5. 301-608-9101 or http://www.pyramidatlanticartcenter.org.

-- Blake Gopnik


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