In Plane View
Abstractions of Flight
Publication Date: November 1, 2007
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In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight, by Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum photographer Carolyn Russo, redirects our attention to the often-overlooked simple beauty of aircraft design. With precedents in the work of Robert Delaunay, Charles Sheeler, and Arshile Gorky, among others, Russo uses fine art photography to bring out new visual dimensions of these powerful symbols of the 20th century, transforming them into works of art. Russo’s striking color photographs distill the complexity of civil and military airplanes and spaceships into bold combinations of line, shape, light, and color.
Beautiful in themselves, Carolyn Russo’s photographs become even more intriguing when we learn their source: the iconic air and space craft of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
Through her unconventional approach Russo reveals new layers of meaning, from the whimsical to the profound, in the appearance of some of history’s most revered flying machines. Juxtaposing her playful and discerning eye, scholarly text from NASM and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery provides fresh perspectives on flight and photography that will leave audiences looking at the world with new eyes.
The book features 90 color photographs, quotes by aviators, artists, and poets, historical captions on each aircraft, and interpretive essays by Anne Collins Goodyear, assistant curator of prints and drawings at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, who specializes in the relationship of art, science, and technology.
Carolyn Russo has worked as a photographer at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution since 1988. She is author of Artifacts of Flight (Harry N. Abrams, 2003) and Women and Flight: Portraits of Contemporary Women Pilots (Bulfinch Press, 1997). Women and Flight was also a traveling exhibit and toured the United States for seven years with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Artifacts of Flight received awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ 50 Books/50 Covers competition and the American Association of Museums’ Publications Design Competition. She holds a BFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art. Her photographs have appeared in both solo and group shows nationally.
Patty Wagstaff is a six-time member of the USA Aerobatic Team, has won the gold, silver, and bronze medals in Olympic-level international aerobatic competition, and is the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic champion and one of the few people to win it three times. Flying before millions of airshow spectators each year, her breathtaking performances give spectators a front-row seat view of the precision and complexity of modern, unlimited hardcore aerobatics. Her smooth, aggressive style sets the standard for performers the world over.
Anne Collins Goodyear is Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Goodyear is the author of essays in Reconsidering a Century of Flight (UNC Press, 2003) and exhibition catalogues for the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight (Prestel, 2003) and the Art Institute of Chicago’s 2001: Building for Space Travel (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001). She is co-editor of Flight: A Celebration of 100 Years in Art and Literature (Welcome Books, 2003).