MARCH 28 - MAY 19, 2018
Steve Ludlum is an iconoclast and through his art he steadfastly undermines the appearance of reality to challenge the sensibilities of the viewer. Producing starkly-rendered artworks across various media since the 1970’s, Ludlum’s recent baseball photographs simultaneously glorify and befoul the game.
Master photographic printer Franz Jantzen describes Ludlum’s photographs this way: “By traditional "photographic" aesthetic standards, Steve Ludlum's baseball series might be considered a failure: they are soft and "out of focus," the prints are large without offering detail, the compositions may only randomly include a subject, the prints can be blown out or heavy, and they just as often depict sedentary inaction as they do split-second drama. And none of this matters, because these are the very things that enliven and energize Ludlum's work, and turn an afternoon of baseball into a free-for-all of form, Gesture, and Color.”
Artforum critic Glenn O’Brien, reviewing Ludlum’s exhibition at Oil & Steel Gallery stated: “I thought of a line by Lou Reed: “the absurd courts the vulgar.” In a surreal world the absurd is vulgar. Here the courtship is over, and so is the honeymoon. Beyond the absurd is a riddle. Ludlum’s stuff is about creative erasure, mystical delimitation, reductio trans absurdum, nuts-and-bolts mandalas… they have a stark, funky, cabalistic luckiness about them. They are bound to inspire numbers players somewhere down the line.”
Describing his approach Ludlum says, “I feed my ongoing obsession with lines, angles and fields of (non) color, looking constantly for more ways to find these things. Photography turns out to be the means to an end: to push the camera beyond its limits. Add the bit of gesture and there is that bit of human touch. The gestures are suggestive of toil without much in the way of reward. Not exactly true but an honest illusion.”
About the Artist
Steve Ludlum was born in St. Louis, MO and studied at the Corcoran School of Art in the late 1970’s. He has lived in Washington, DC and New York City working in painting, neon, sculpture, and photography. He has exhibited at Barbara Fiedler Gallery (DC), Middendorf Gallery (DC), Washington Project for the Arts, Oil & Steel Gallery (NYC), Galapagos (NY), and Fab Lab (DC). On September 11, 2001 Ludlum took the photograph of the second plane striking the World Trade Center, which appeared in the New York Times the day after, winning him a Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography. He also edits Economic Untertow. Ludlum currently lives in Northern Virginia but is looking elsewhere.