Thankfully, in the listings this week is a good old fashioned straight photography show by Bruce Wrighton at Laurence Miller Gallery. If you're wondering Bruce Who?, join the crowd. Apparently he was born in Ithaca, NY and lived and worked his whole life not far away in Binghamton, squarely outside any mainstream art circles. He died in 1988 at age 38 leaving behind a small treasure trove of gorgeous work, some of which can be found at the gallery site. Although I'm less enamored with his photos of cars, his public space interiors and street portraits are simply first rate. Horses Think has a nice review, including a short excerpt of Wrighton's thoughts from an interview in —Yes, you're reading this correctly— a local edition of the Weekly Pennysaver.
How he went from the Weekly Pennysaver to The New Yorker is a mystery. I can find very little about his life online beyond what I've written here. In fact, I'm sure that this mystique is registering on some level in my psyche when I look at his work, and perhaps effecting my judgment of it. There's something riveting in the life stories of all those photographers who traced forgotten footsteps only to be discovered as geniuses after dying. Atget, Bellocq, Disfarmer, Salignac, Watkins, etc. The artistic canon is as malleable as trends in The New Yorker, and that fact is a tiny ray of light for many of us anonymous art serfs.
But even without knowing anything about his life the quality of Wrighton's work is obvious. Bruce Who indeed. If anyone knows more about this person's life and background, please email me.