Kozloff’s 40-plus years of observation, consideration, and pursuit of meaning will be celebrated by well-known authorities speaking to some of his major concerns. Sandra Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, will address his concentration on street photography; the author and scholar Phillip Lopate will discuss Kozloff’s observations on portraiture; the celebrated photographer Duane Michals will speak on Kozloff the photographer; Robert Storr, well-known curator, critic and current Dean of the Yale School of Art, will position Kozloff’s contributions to the field of art and photography criticism. Lyle Rexer, writer and critic, will serve as moderator for the symposium.
Kozloff began taking photographs in 1976 after switching his field from art criticism to writing on photography. His photographs were first presented at the Holly Solomon Gallery, NY, in 1977. He has had several one-person and group exhibitions in over half a dozen countries, most notably the exhibition Max Kozloff: Critic and Photographer at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013 and Max Kozloff: New York Over the Top at Steven Kasher Gallery in 2014.
“The subjects of my portraits from the 1980s were writers and artists, friends illumined by their personal style. Hoping to catch some flash of that style, I visited them at their homes, only to find myself on a blind date with a problem called available light. How to keep those sensitive figures from receding into shadow, yet retain enough of its depth to dramatize their presence? My portraits had to sustain themselves, as much through their pictorial responsibilities as by their depiction of faces. That is why color and pattern play a role in these images alongside questioning gazes, introspective moods, and singular gestures. It was a question of harmonizing structure and circumstance at short, formal, nervous notice. With little interest in known genres, I proceeded in one-on-one encounters with sitters who may have been sympathetic or vexed by the spectacle of a photographer fumbling with a tetchy camera, while, for his part, he liked the possibility that they were unaware of becoming a spectacle themselves. “
Max Kozloff is one of the most important figures in the fields of art and photography criticism. Within three years of his Master’s degree in Art History from the University of Chicago, he became the art critic for The Nation (1961-68), the New York correspondent for the magazine Art International (1961-64) and later moved from Associate to Contributing to Executive Editor at Artforum (1963-1976), a magazine founded in 1962 with the express intent to move US art criticism into an intellectually rigorous form.
Kozloff’s first book, a monograph on Jasper Johns (Abrams) was published in 1969. He has published 15 books to date in addition to contributing numerous essays to artist monographs. His 1969 anthology of critical writings,Renderings: Critical Essays on a Century of Modern Art, was one of the first to call attention to the inadequacy of current forms of criticism to deal with the new art forms of Pop and Minimalism.
He has been the recipient of fellowships from Pulitzer, Fulbright, the Guggenheim and the National Endowment for the Arts for critical writing in the arts. The College Art Association (CAA) awarded him its highest award for art criticism and the International Center for Photography (ICP) awarded him its prize for excellence in writing on photography. He has held teaching positions at the University of Chicago, the Cooper Union, Queens College, Yale University, the Chicago Art Institute, UCLA and from 1989-2000 at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), New York in the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media department.
Conceived by Richard Leslie and produced by Michelle Leftheris, Max Kozloff and the Unfolding of Photography Criticism is sponsored by the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in partial celebration of the 25th-plus anniversary of the MFA program in Photography, Video and Related Media. Support for this event was generously provided by Jeff Nesin of the Provost’s Office.The Symposium will take place on November 8, from 2 until 5:00 pm, at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, NYC.