Multitude, Solitude / Dave Heath
March 14 – September 2, 2019

Dave Heath, Janine Pommy Vega, Seven Arts Coffee Gallery, New York, 1959

Whether picking out a single face in a crowd, capturing an act of violence between siblings, or framing close-up portraits of quiet despair, Dave Heath had an instinctive ability to capture the soul behind the public persona. Extending the autobiographical mode of American photojournalist, W. Eugene Smith, he produced intense and profound images that plumbed the depths and subtleties of the human condition.

 

Dave Heath, 5th Avenue at 43rd Street, New York City, 1958

Dave Heath, Failed Resuscitation, Central Park, New York City, 1957

Dave Heath, Carl Dean Kipper, Korea, 1953–54

Dave Heath, Kansas City, Missouri, 1967

“I don’t know why some people become artists and others don’t, but there was some deeper sense within myself of survival, of having to define and declare myself on my own terms…”
–Dave Heath

This acclaimed traveling exhibition focuses on Heath’s skillful crafting of the photographic print, as well as his innovative use of sequencing. A central component is Heath’s poetic masterpiece A Dialogue With Solitude (1965), which displays the artist’s important explorations into the potential of the photo book. Other handmade photo books and a digital version of his first audiovisual slide show, Beyond the Gates of Eden (1969) reveal Heath’s profound understanding of photography’s many expressive facets.

 

Dave Heath, Santa Barbara, California, 1964

Dave Heath, New York City, 1958-59

Dave Heath, Vengeful Sister, Chicago, 1956

Dave Heath was a master of darkroom technique, carefully dodging, burning and bleaching his prints to create the deep, luminous images for which he has become known. Exploring Heath’s artistic trajectory from teenage prodigy to influential photographer, Multitude, Solitude celebrates work that reflects the loneliness and alienation of modern life.

 

Dave Heath, Washington Square, New York City, 1959-1960

Dave Heath, Washington Square, New York City, 1958 / New York City, 1962

Dave Heath, Rochester, New York, 1958

I don’t know why some people become artists and others don’t, but there was some deeper sense within myself of survival, of having to define and declare myself on my own terms and not in other people’s terms. And the way I found to do that was through being an artist.

–Dave Heath

Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath
Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Through September 2, 2019 / National Gallery of Canada
Visit the exhibition page >

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