Since the start of the twenty-first century, the once sacrosanct expertise needed make photographs has been replaced with the ease and ubiquity of digital photography. Today, as virtually anyone with a smart phone knows well, making photographs is an everyday activity.
At the other end of this spectrum is George Tice, whose career started over seventy years ago. Tice still adheres to the analog processes of photography, using celluloid film in his camera and a darkroom to make his prints. His is a world of light-sensitive film, manual-focus cameras, light meters, and the potent smell of developing chemicals. The extraordinary details of his prints are the result of a bulky, large-format camera (think nineteenth-century technology, not twenty-first) with its oversized negatives and laborious printing process. Taken together, these details of production are hallmarks of Tice’s stunningly beautiful work.
Many of Tice’s most important and well-known images have been made in his native state of New Jersey, a location with no shortage of ordinary, even mundane, aspects of daily life to capture. His iconic photographs of the urban landscape—of gas stations, water towers, and even a White Castle hamburger joint—are a testament to sites of overlooked beauty. But while one might think that nostalgia for times long past is the through-line of Tice’s work, in fact it is his commitment to recording simple situations that typically go unremarked (and are all-too-soon forgotten) that is the core of his practice.
George Tice: Big Platinums and Seldom Seen is comprised of two distinct bodies of work that together represent the extremes of the artist’s career. Here works that Tice is best known for—for example, the luminous Telephone Booth 3:00 a.m., Rahway, New Jersey, from 1974—are exhibited with others that are rarely seen, such as Water Tower, Holmdel, New Jersey (2010). This exhibition marks the first time that these two significant bodies of work have been presented together.