Lida Moser: 50 Years of Photographs

TO APRIL 13

Today, the hottest photographers seem more concerned with creating reality than documenting it—which makes Lida Moser a welcome throwback. Moser, 84 and a Washington-area resident, made her living for decades as a New York City–based freelance photographer for such magazines as Look, Esquire, and Vogue. A 23-work exhibit at Fraser Gallery Georgetown offers a tiny peek into her long and wide-ranging career, but her vérité black-and-white images decisively break through today’s clutter. When Moser documented the construction of New York’s Exxon Building in the early ’70s (Construction of Exxon Building, New York City is pictured), she turned it into a virtual abstract-expressionist stripe painting. A photograph on a Scottish sidewalk in the late ’40s seems like a carefully arranged group portrait, until you realize that the title, Queen’s Parade, Edinburgh, Scotland, means it’s actually a spontaneous image of the expectant crowd. Moser’s distinctly horizontal photograph of a man sitting on a chair on a sidewalk next to a row of trash cans and discarded boxes strongly suggests Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black. A portrait of jazzman Charles Mingus practically vibrates with energy. Shadow, 23rd St. and 5th Ave. offers an amoebalike distortion of a pedestrian’s body and shadow on a seemingly reflective sidewalk. Though Moser’s photograph of a fashion model surrounded by rambunctious street kids is her most iconic, the show’s most striking image is Office Building Lobby, New York, in which Moser’s wild overexposure has reduced organization men to near–stick figures and the lobby to an ill-defined blob, presaging by several years the visual distortions of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The show is on view from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays, to Wednesday, April 13, at the Fraser Gallery, 1054 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 298-6450. (Louis Jacobson)

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