The Journal Gallery is pleased to present “Sitting,” an exhibition of photographs and films produced by John Kayser in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, curated by Peter Miles and Shirley Cook. This will be the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery, and the most comprehensive showing of his work to date, with over 500 unique photographs and 13 films on view.
Little is known about Kayser’s life, whose work was discovered only after his death in 2007 in Los Angeles. Biographical details are limited to information gathered from a collection of notes, papers and documents, along with clues found in the photographs and films themselves.
Born in 1922 in North Dakota, Kayser lived most of his life in California, first in Pasadena as a child and then in East Hollywood throughout his adult life. He studied briefly at the Art Center of Los Angeles and the Allied Art School in Glendale, California, and later served in WWII as an armorer in the 18th Bomber Squadron, a military position that led to his life-long employment with Northrop Aircraft Incorporated, first in assembly and later as a technical illustrator.
He is not known to have publicly shown or exhibited his films or photographs during his lifetime, yet Kayser maintained an obsessive interest in photographing women. They appear as collaborators in the creative act, sitting on or crushing with their feet an unusual mix of repeated props—cakes, vegetables, magazines, a bearskin rug and even his own body and face.
Displayed in tables produced for this exhibition, the photographs include each of Kayser’s chosen mediums—from his earliest artist-made silver prints, Kodacolors and Polaroids, to the Kodak drugstore prints that define much of his estate. The 8mm films show Kayser in the roll of director, setting the static scenarios of his photographs in motion. The films, it seems, are essential to the photographs, or vice versa, making “Sitting” a near complete survey of Kayser’s obsessive photographic language.
A publication, edition of 400, accompanies the exhibition and will be available for sale at the gallery.
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