Robert Cottingham's One Way


Commentary by Katherine Blood
Curator of Fine Prints - Prints and Photographs Division at The Library of Congress

In contrast to a lot of the figurative and representational work that's in the exhibition, Cunningham's work is super real, it's photo realism, and actually he takes photographs and uses them as source material for his images. And he was informed by a number of different influences, including earlier realists like Edward Hopper and colleagues like Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns.

He came from an advertising background, and I think you can really see that in his work. And he was also interested in Andy Warhol, who also took sort of commercial imagery and presented it as fine art. But this is a wonderful signature kind of image by him which takes a slice of street life.

And he selected a very particular piece of it. It's vernacular architecture, but not in - not a building that's framed and in the center of the image, but instead he's filled it with this raucous cacophony of traffic lights, advertisements, signs, and, sort of geometric grid work of poles and awning and… So again, it's this sort of selection. He amps up the colors and he takes something that is recognizable, something that's from - possibly from your experience, but that you might not have recognized quite in that way.

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