"As I gaze at these mirrors of silver light, the constant I experience can be seen from the heart of why I create images in this chosen medium . . .that being the joy of the work and the expansion of the emotional heart through seeing and allowing beauty, as well as illuminating truths, to pass from that magic mirror into my life." Paul Caponigro
- Paul Caponigro is one of the legendary photographers working today. With an artistic career spanning half a century, his photographic eye, powers of inspiration, and technique are unmatched in the world of photography. After a six year hiatus, Mr. Caponigro has produced a stunning new and fresh body of work. On exhibit for the first time in Santa Fe are twenty-four exquisite still lifes that celebrate the cycles of nature, and hint at an underlying order and intelligence to the universe.
Caponigro's vision has its roots in Paul Strand's response to the purity of forms, and in the metaphysical/metaphorical tradition of Minor White. Unlike these artists, however, Caponigro primarily seeks inspiration in nature and natural forms. His printing reflects a heightened sensitivity
to grey tonalities, while retaining the impact of strong blacks and whites. The simple directness of his compositions and attention to details suggest deeper, underlying meanings than are immediately apparent in the subject alone. Whether the image is of a still life, a landscape, a solitary apple, or a ring of standing stones, Caponigro's photographs evoke the promise of growth and regeneration mingled with timelessness.
After many years of photographing abroad, Caponigro recently found inspiration literally in his own backyard. In 1999 he compiled a variety of natural objects from his home and in the fields and woods near his house. Stones, shells, plants, and fruit were chosen for their simple beauty and arranged with painstaking care into mandala-like still lifes.
Cornucopia, 1999, is remarkable for its visual power, its simplicity of design, and its complex interplay between order and chaos. Within a round bowl, ten long-stemmed white shells harmoniously encircle a spiral shell in the center. The bowl is surrounded by dried rose petals scattered over a square ceramic dish ornamented with fine raku lines. The composition revolves around its center, enticing the viewer with movement, beauty and mystery.
In Wreath for the Green Man, 1999, neatly arranged acorns wreathe a single large pine cone whose spiraling form is an astonishing example of nature's geometric precision. Acorns and pinecone are contained in an irregularly shaped tree trunk bowl set upon the fine-grained surface of a wooden table. Seen as a unit, the forms resembles an exotic wood flower blossoming in the center of the square photograph.
One of Caponigro's most graceful compositions is titled Two Pears, 1999. The sensuous pears are nestled within a circular wooden bowl that is set against a velvety black background. Caponigro printed the perfectly shaped pears almost pure white, creating the impression we are glimpsing the eternal essence of this ordinary fruit.
The Green Man, 1999, evokes a mythical being once imagined by northern Europeans to infuse nature with fertility. Caponigro created the photograph by arranging a surface of wheat stalks and corn. Upon this he laid a feathered face carved from stone and crowned it with an ear of dried corn sprouting flame-like husks. The fierce, not-quite-human face stares at the viewer from its field of grains, personifying the creative energy that emanates from Caponigro's entire body of work.
Paul Caponigro was born in Boston in 1932. He was already working as a photographer when he
first traveled through the western United States in 1953 as a soldier on route to San Francisco during the Korean War. His experience of southwest lands inspired him to develop a highly personal photographic vision. During the 1950s and '60s he studied with Minor White, published his photographs in Aperture magazine, and exhibited at the George Eastman House and Siembab Gallery. In 1966 a Guggenheim Fellowship enabled him to travel to Ireland where he made his now classic photograph of white deer running titled County Wicklow, Ireland, 1967. In the early 1970s Caponigro moved to New Mexico where he photographed southwest landscapes for over a decade. In the early 1990s he moved to Maine.