In 1980, when I started thinking about making abstract photographs, I wanted to make work that did not look like "street photography." I was interested in doing something "oppositional."
I began by shooting aluminum foil, kelp, pastry dough, and salt. (I was a short order cook at the time.) The aluminum foils (Untitled, 1980-1981) were the most exciting to me, and I spent the next 18 months working on them. Overexposing the prints made them look less like aluminum foil, which left more room for multiple associations. Most people interpreted the images as landscapes or as pictures of starry skies.
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Since the mid-1970s, Welling’s work has explored realism and transparency, abstraction and representation, optics and description, personal and cultural memory, and the material and chemical nature of photography. The artist has been the subject of numerous catalogues addressing his more than 25 bodies of work, yet no previous book has attempted to link these works and examine the primary threads that run through them all. Sumptuously produced and created in close collaboration with the artist, this volume presents a large selection of recent series, from 2000 through to the present, interspersed with important early and iconic works made in the preceding decades.