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architectural art and engraving

Madeleine Isom (Contemporary)(Now Madeleine Doering.)

Madeleine Isom contradicts every supposition and stereotype about a serious photographer. Tall, chic and egocentric, she never melts into the crowd the way a documentarian learns. Utterly decisive about the placement of her camera, Isom will block a lane of traffic if it impedes her view of the city. Graduating from Loyola, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Columbia University with advanced degrees in fine arts and architecture, she is well armed with intellect in support of her art.

Madeleine Isom is a master of the abstract whose formalist perfection has elevated her photography into the realm of the sublime. She isn't interested in the documentary or narrative approach to the built environment, but instead, in the shapes constructed by civilization and the overlay of time needed to achieve them. This living geometry differs from the purely theoretical constructivism of the early 20th Century to become a sort of 'Haiku' of the city. Within the frame of her viewfinder is not only graphic contrast, but a sense of time travel.

Unlike the prevailing trend in art using photography as a component to modern painting and printmaking, hers are pure, unmanipulated, real-time exposures owing more to Moholy-Nagy and the New Bauhaus. However, her keen interest in historic preservation has removed any bias toward the old architecture. She has come up with something altogether different, a compulsion to juxtapose simpler, late modernism with its historical precedents.

Her work is an elemental graphic statement of such purity of line and shadow, the power of technology and the huge scale of American building, that it can be read as a modern photographic parallel to the Chicago School. Her first solo exhibition was at The Chicago Cultural Center in late 2000 that she called "Architecture Abstracted." Her press release stated: "The individuality of structure becomes background to the structural tensions of the city, played out in textured relationships and contrasting forms. They are landscapes without reference, no horizon, no sky, only layers of buildings and time."

At the beginning of the 21st Century, we look for new ways to 'see' our own world. Madeleine Isom can see clearly.

abstract architectural photography
State 1
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000

abstract architectural art
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000


burnham homage image
D H Burnham 1
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000

click on image
to enlarge

World Trade Center, images
860-880 #1
7 x 2 3/8 inches

nbc tower image
NBC Tower
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000
6 x 3.5 inches

state street photograph
State 3
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000

chinatown elevator bridge, abstract image
Chinatown Elevator Bridge
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000


goose island bridge , image
Goose Island Bridge
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000
Link to Madeleine Isom's Web Site  
Link to Madeleine Isom: City  
Link to Foto Chicago  
Link to Secret Cities: Extraordinary Urban Photography  

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654

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