The second room mainly focused on his Less Américains project. This involved taking images from Robert Frank’s influential 1958 book of photographs, Les Américains, and erased most of the visual content, leaving only solitary details from the originals, producing images such as this
Further examples from this work can be viewed on the artist’s blog, here.
I guess these works (from both rooms) rasies some interesting questions as Henner has not actually taken photographs. Rather, he has used images from other sources – the Internet in the case of Levelland Oilfeeds and Feedlots and a photography book for Less Américains. I’m sure many people would consider this not to be “real” art as Henner hasn’t created anything from scratch and is utilising others’ work. Interestingly, we visited another exhibition recently, “In the Middle Distance” at Abbot Hall in Kendal, which features works by a Swiss artist, Uwe Wittwer, who also creates images by computer manipulation of old photographs, he’d “found” on the Internet.
But “Found” objects and images have always had their place in art, particularly in artists who create collages and the like. Recent examples I’ve seen include works by Kurt Schwitters, the master of Merz, also at Abbot Hall (Tate Britain are currently showing a major retrospective until 12 May of the work he produced during his limited time in Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany) and works by the “Affichistes”, Jacques Villeglé and François Dufrêne, at the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Nîmes and some of the works of Peter Blake on show at the Peter Blake and Pop Music exhibition we visited at Salford Quays a few weeks ago. And both Picasso and Marcel Duchamps were masters in the use of “found objects”.
I think Mishka Henner and Uwe Wittwer are both credible artists. Their skill is in selecting images and they way the manipulate them to produce something new, interesting, challenging and in some cases, beautiful.