Eve Sonneman is used to being a rarity: she was for a while the only female presence at Leo Castelli Gallery, where she showed in the 1970s and ‘80s, adding whimsy and wit to an era of social and conceptual austerity in photography. She is furthermore the rarity of an artist who devotes equal passion in the areas of camera work, abstract watercolor, and painted constructions. Her breakthrough wizardry in the glory days of Polaroid-sponsored experimentation led her to coin the term Sonnegrams to describe startling works in which dancers and other figures were seamlessly superimposed upon Nasa-supplied imagery. In her latest photographs, at Nohra Haime Gallery (her third show there in as many years) her feet are firmly on the ground again and she is back on form, furthermore, with her classic photographic idiom: the black and white diptych. There is a sly charm to Sonneman’s bipolarity: with neither forced juxtaposition nor serial blandness her twin-shot motifs deploy subtle shifts in scale or crop to destabilize temporal fixity and imply narrative complexity. The coy way her lens captures reflections of dainty cutout chambermaids flitting across the picture plane of a Cannes shop window is a teasing throw back, meanwhile, to those cosmic dancers of Polaroid Sonnegram yesteryear. DAVID COHEN
Eve Sonneman, Femmes de Chambre en Rang, La Croisette, Cannes, 2012. Digitally printed photograph on Japanese paper, diptych, edition of 10, 20 x 30 inches/ 50.8 x 76.2 cm. Courtesy of Nohra Haime Gallery.
Eve Sonneman: La Cote d’Azur at Nohra Haime Gallery, 730 Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Street, New York City, (212) 888-3550, March 14 to April 28, 2012print