Ann Rhoney at Nailya Alexander

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday June 6, 2018

Ann Rhoney is an artist whose career bridges the worlds of art and design, and whose hand-colored photograph, Silk Dress Coming, became an icon when it was seen in The Met’s 2012 exhibition, Faking It. Now her landscape work can be seen in a solo show at Nailya Alexander Gallery. Above: South of France, 1977; painted 2018.

Rhoney’s unique hand-painted photographs, which she began creating in the mid-1970s, resulted from her questioning of the camera’s ability to register the nuances of color as seen by the human eye. The rich blacks and silvers of Rhoney’s darkroom prints recall photography’s origins as “drawing with light.” By applying transparent oil paints to the surface, she fulfills photography’s promise of true luminosity, and reveals a dazzling spectrum of blues, peaches, and grays unattainable using traditional color film.

Rhoney’s involvement with the landscape springs from her upbringing in Niagara Falls, a setting that has inspired generations of artists and writers, including the painters of the Hudson River School and the poet and novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. Niagara Falls is also the subject of the first known photograph of North America, taken in 1840. 


Rising, Niagara Falls, 1979; painted 2017.

Here, as a teenager, Rhoney worked summer nights selling postcards at the base of the falls. In her ethereal night-scape Niagara (1979), she paints the mist rising off the falls in subdued shades of amaranth and lilac. In this, as well as the image of a garden in the south of France (above), she invests the landscape with a spirit presence, perhaps a sensibility drawn from the ideas that brewed in upstate New York’s Lilydale community. Photographs © Ann Rhoney; courtesy Nailya Alexander Gallery 4LSphoto

Ann Rhoney: Life in Color continues at Nailya Alexander Gallery through July 20. 41 East 57thStreet, NY, NY Info

Ann Rhoney’s artwork was first shown in 1985 at the Daniel Wolf Gallery in Manhattan. Today, her photographs can be found in museums throughout the United States and in Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo; the George Eastman Museum, Rochester; the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin; and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Her photographs have also appeared on the covers of New York magazine, Newsweek, and Life, and have illustrated articles in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vogue.


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