Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain proudly presents the exhibition Observation - Phyllis Lambert, curated by Adad Hannah. The exhibition echoes her latest book, Observation Is A Constant That Underlies All Approaches, published by Lars Müller Publishers (Zurich). The exhibition presents a selection of seventy photographs that follow her inquisitive gaze as she moves from 35mm black and white film to medium format film and colour slides, and eventually to handheld cell phone images, from the 1950s until today.
Adad Hannah states:
" From her earliest experiments as a student and photographic studies of Montreal's greystone buildings to her most recent photos made during lockdown, Phyllis Lambert has always been a close observer of texture, gesture, space, and light and the other elements that make a photograph interesting. With a keen nose for what Roland Barthes would call the punctum, she has amassed a vast collection of unexpectedly poignant snapshots that are often moving but never sentimental.
What I am most captivated by is the way Phyllis moved seamlessly from 35mm to medium format and then, in recent years, transitioned to an iPhone. This fluidity of technical means reveals the unwavering commitment to observing the world that characterizes Phyllis' work and way of being.
The immediacy of her photographs is a reflection of her sharp observation skills and her deep friendships with photographers like Richard Pare, Aaron Siskind, Lee Friedlander, Guido Guidi, Geoffrey James, Robert Burley, David Miller and Clara Gutsche with whom she worked on various books and commissions, including Court House: A Photographic Document and Viewing Olmsted. With the book Photography and Architecture: 1839-1939, published by the Canadian Centre for Architecture, she established the genre of books focussed on the photography of architecture.
This exhibition features 68 photographs taken over a period of 60 years. I selected the photographs in this exhibition from the more than 300 included in her book, which are themselves a subset of her vast personal archive of over 80,000 photographs. The book was curated By David Cyrenne and published by Lars Müller."
In the words of Phyllis Lambert:
""Many persuasive reasons to be involved with photography come to mind. Surely, observation is the constant that underlies all approaches, all levels of interest, and all fascination with the medium. And from observation grows a deepening understanding of the complex interactions between art and the many diverse fields of human knowledge. My own use of the camera dates back to 1954, as I started to think about what a new building in New York-the Seagram building-could be. While in Rome during Easter that year, I began to look more closely at buildings through the lens of a camera I had barely used, observing their qualities, how they sat on the land, their form and articulation, their materials, how architectural details related to a building as a whole, and how the building related to the urban fabric and space of the city."
Phyllis Lambert is an architect, author, photographer, conservation activist and a critic of architecture and urbanism. She is the Founding Director Emeritus of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), which she established in 1979 as an international research center and museum premised on the belief that architecture is a public concern. Lambert received numerous awards and honors, including the Gold Medal from the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada in 1991, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2014, and the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contribution to Architecture in 2023.
Another exclusive selection of photographs by Phyllis Lambert will be presented at the Plural Contemporary Art Fair from April 21st to April 23rd, 2023.