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Review: alumnus' "ridiculously beautiful" images are "about photography itself."

October 18, 2013
LA Times

By Sharon Mizota

Review: James Welling searches for beauty

The dramatic, glossy black shapes in James Welling’s “Gelatin Photographs” from the mid 1980s look like coal or tar or chunks of primordial ooze. Both obdurate and strangely fleshy, they are arrayed haphazardly across stark white grounds like some oily, alien sputum — or an abstract painting.

Actually, they are made of much more quotidian stuff: Jell-O, dyed black with ink. These mysterious images appear in Welling’s current retrospective at the Hammer Museum. On view through Jan. 12, it surveys 35 years of photographic work in which nothing is ever just Jell-O.

That slippery sweet is made from gelatin, which is also the substance applied to film or paper to hold a traditional photographic image. The title “Gelatin Photographs” is therefore both descriptive and redundant. All traditional photographs are gelatin photographs. Read More

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