The HRC at UT owns one of the foremost collections of photography in the world. Occasionally they show some to the general public. This season they have produced a show that shows work recently accessioned, by purchase or donation, to the collection. The bulk of the new work shown covers the time period from the 1960's to 2014.
I went not knowing what to expect but I left knowing that I would have made a few different shopping choices. Let me get this out of the way: Alec Soth has gotten a lot of press in the art world for the last few years but if the two pieces I saw today are indicative of his current work I can only hope that the museum picked them up on the cheap. Like, in the territory of a couple of coffees and a scone cheap. Because the two images I saw from his recent black and white work (done in Texas originally for The Texas Triangle Magazine) were less than bad --- they were boring and plainly evocative of typical work from any one of thousands of college fine art student studying photography in early days. Just printed a bit bigger. Two or three thumbs down for me. Maybe he was just on vacation from being an artist when he made the work on display....
On the other hand the acquisition included work by Andy Warhol that was fun and good, as well as some work by Anne Noggle that was provocative and well done. There is one photograph in the show that stopped me in my tracks and that was an image of by Dave Heath of a 10 or 12 year old boy on the street. The print was small. No bigger than 5x7 inches. It's one of the most compelling images I've seen in a long time and an exquisite example of the perfect use of narrow depth of field.
The main gallery is sprinkled with gems amid photographs that are more important as footnotes than masterpieces. If you are in Austin the show is well worth taking time to visit. It will be up through the end of May. See the Alec Soth prints and imagine that you too could (easily) be a famous "ART" photographer. See the rest of the works and see actual creative thought instead.
I am looking forward to visiting the nearby Blanton Museum later this coming week because they have a new show. Here's what the museum says about it: