In museums across the world, Richard Nagler stationed himself in front of his chosen piece of art, waiting for someone to come along and complete it. The serendipitous, unstaged encounters between art and individuals documented in Looking at Art are the results of that patience.
At first, the egalitarian relationship between person and artwork seems perplexing: the art is not relegated to the background, nor is the individual considered a disruption. In Nagler’s photographs, artwork and individual are presented as equals, each one mirroring and amplifying aspects of the other. The viewer takes on some of the power of the art by echoing an image or theme; and at the same time, the artwork takes on added depth by its momentary association with its viewer. The transformative power of art has been widely acknowledged, but Nagler also shows us art’s need to be transformed and given meaning by humanity.
Allen Ginsberg once said, “Every one of [Nagler’s] photographs brings to my mind a haiku.” Like that poetic form, these images display masterful skill and restraint, yet they also convey a sense of immediacy and undeniable vitality. A celebration of the connection between people and art, Looking at Art captures fleeting moments of wholeness.