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Photo Theory of Making Art: Dogs, New York,

© ArtNet Worldwide 1997

Photo Theory of Making Art: Portrait, New York,

Photo Theory of Making Art: Pipes, Italy,

cosimo di 
leo ricatto

at sandra gering

by Eduardo Costa

Cosimo Di Leo Ricatto is a conceptual artist known for his photography and his all-white wall pieces. These works usually consist of boxes full of jars and other things balanced in three dimensions, synthetic of structuralism and Arte Povera.

In this show we see a fascinating series of black and white photographs shot by the artist during his daily travels during the last 15 years, things and images seen in passing, frequently while walking on the street. These works are collectively titled "Photo Theory of Making Art," a reference to the artist's notion that the images encapsulate a history--whether as echo or source--of Modernism's various artistic strategies.

Some of the photos recall film stills, ranging from cinema noir to Spielberg. A door opens to let a jet of bright light out, announcing a poltergeist apparition. A group of porcelain puppies gather on a windowsill. A bathtub, almost fully buried in a lawn, is filled with water and goldfish. A fashion doll is hidden, and at the same time dressed, by neon signs. Somebody's portrait on a wall is partly canceled by the climactic shadow of a chair.

The treatment and choice of the images is wonderful, setting this show apart from most similar efforts. Still, what makes it more unique are the slick black frames, reminiscent of TV sets, which sit on narrow black shelves. These create a different tension between the images, the space of the gallery and the viewers, inaugurating a new kind of art object.

Cosimo Di Leo Ricatto at Sandra Gering, Jan. 11-Feb. 8, 1997, 476 Broome, New York, N.Y. 10013.

EDUARDO COSTA is a writer who lives and works on the Internet.