Richard Nagler: The Unspoken Word
Photographs based on words from 1977 through 2007.
November 1, 2007 - December 1, 2007
exhibition artwork

"Through his WORD photographs," writes Ishmael Reed, "Nagler is watching the world carefully and seeing what we say about the world and what the world says about us, one word at a time."

For Bay Area photographer Richard Nagler, the old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" has it backwards. Nagler, on the contrary, finds that a word may be worth a thousand images. The gallery's exhibition of Richard Nagler titled, The Unspoken Word, features a thirty-year conceptual body of photographs based in the juxtaposition of word and image, through the chance encounter of a solitary word and a single person. The digital pigment prints in this exhibition are new editions printed by Nagler in his studio on watercolor paper using an 8-color printing process, which allows him to achieve exact color precision.

"For the past thirty years," explains Nagler, "one of my pursuits as a photographer has been to build a consistent body of work that captures a peculiar and particular juxtaposition in space and time. The images which I have been taking over 30 years are created and captured at the unique and accidental intersection of a single person existing in or entering into a photographic border in which a single written word is also present. The only constraint I put on myself as the observer and chronicler is: one person/one word, each somehow echoing or explaining the other."

The series began with an accidental encounter in Oakland in 1977, when Nagler noticed the single word "Time" in large block letters on a building. He found the image especially compelling when he saw a woman peering out at the street from a window above the sign. After several weeks of patience and persistence, he was able to capture the image in the photograph "Time" (1977), the earliest photograph in the exhibition and the first in what has become a continuing series. "That image stayed with me," explains Nagler, "and once I'd captured it, I was struck by how many ways it affected me, not the least being how photography is able to stop time, and also the time it took for me to achieve just the right juxtaposition of word and image."

Richard Nagler has been a respected member of the San Francisco Bay Area photographic community for the past thirty years, both as a photographer and as an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of the photographic arts. For several years he sponsored The Richard Nagler Competition for Jewish Photography, an international photo competition held annually for photographers working with Judaic themes at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley. In addition to recognition for his photographic work and promotion of photographic art, he is also highly regarded as an astute collector of photography.

The photographer's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including one-person shows at the Oakland Museum; the Albert Einstein Center, Sacramento; the May Museum in Lawrence, New York; and the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv, Israel. His first solo exhibition at George Krevsky Gallery was presented in 2004. Additionally, his photographs have been included in group exhibitions at the Twining Gallery, New York; Klein Gallery, Chicago; Dalian Gallery, China; the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, and others, and will be shown at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in February 2008. His photographs also have been featured in the books Oakland Rhapsody: The Secret Soul of An American Downtown, with text by Ishmael Reed (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 1995); and My Love Affair with Miami Beach, with text by Isaac Bashevis Singer (Simon and Schuster, 1991).