The photographs in PULP span several decades, styles and approaches to the medium, but they share a connection to the humble and ubiquitous piece of paper. When recycled, scrap paper is milled into a pulp and then pressed into fresh, blank sheets. PULP highlights another type of recycling, in which artists create new images from discarded or insignificant fragments of modern life.
Harry Callahan, Peeling paint and paper, c. 1977 (printed 1980–81), dye transfer print, 8 11/16 x 13 7/8 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Soraya Betterton 2006.78
Pavel Banka, “One Person Story,” 1982, toned gelatin silver print, 12 ½ x 9 1/8 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Fernando Barnuevo 2007.169
Richard Misrach, Playboy #97 (Marlboro Country), 1990, chromogenic print, 20 in. x 25 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of the artist in honor of Barbara Tannenbaum 2010.53
Esther Bubley, Newsstand, c. 1940s, gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 in. x 4 1/2 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of the estate of Esther Bubley 2003.22
Aaron Siskind, Chicago, 1957, (printed mid-late 1960s), gelatin silver print, 17 1/2 in. x 22 1/4 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Museum Acquisition Fund.
Gloria DeFilipps Brush, Untitled (2870.5), from The Christina Suite, 1990, gelatin silver print, 9 7/8 x 13 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of the artist 1999.25
"Shows like this are wonderful purist examples of the world of museums and their research. Important questions can be asked and answered only in settings that encourage this type of thought, and Pulp shows why art museums are models for this."—Anderson Turner, "Humble paper stars in ‘Pulp’ at Akron Art Museum," Akron Beacon Journal
In popular culture, the word “pulp” is almost always followed by “fiction.” Director Quentin Tarantino’s landmark 1994 film by that name capitalized on the lurid plots that defined a genre of cheap publications popular in the first half of the 20th century. Pulp fiction, or pulp magazines, were printed on rough wood pulp paper and sold for a few cents per copy as entertainment for the masses.
Today, cheap paper ephemera continues to be produced and distributed on a large scale—daily newspapers, glossy monthly magazines, weekly tabloids, advertising posters and billboards are just some examples of paper products meant to be seen, then discarded. Typically mundane, their content reflects aspects of the cultures they serve, and can offer a wealth of possibilities to artists who analyze those cultures with a critical eye.
PULP also includes photographs in which paper ephemera offer aesthetic rather than critical possibilities, becoming material for abstracted compositions by Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind and Louis Stettner, or playing a role in personal reflections and explorations in the photographs of Pavel Banka and Gloria DeFilipps Brush.
This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum.