Background

"Cooper's 'Surf Beach Station' is compelling."
Daniella Walsh, art critic

"The fact is that when one stands in front of one of James Cooper's works, one wonders in this era of computer graphics, if his images have been manipulated. The answer is no; they are unmanipulated."
Antoinette Sullivan, Studio Gallery

About

Suggestive of the American modernism Precisionism movement, the work is characterized by the reduction of compositions to simple shapes and underlying geometrical structures, with clear outlines, minimal detail, unexpected viewpoints and framing, and an emphasis on the abstract form of the subject.

American Precisionists focused on selecting subjects from the American landscape and regional American culture. Many of the same artists applied their new style to long-familiar American scenes, such as agricultural structures and domestic architecture. Even such conventional motifs as a still life of fruit or flowers were treated to a fresh assessment in the Precisionist style. Their paintings, drawings, and prints also showed the influence of recent work by American photographers, such as Paul Strand, who were utilizing sharp focus and lighting, unexpected viewpoints and cropping, and emphasis on the abstract form of the subject.

The style is evident in Ellsworth Kelly's photographs, from 1950s through the 1980s of barns, their interlocking forms evoking the planes of his own paintings and sculptures. Central to many of these images are windows, roofs, and the shadows they cast. He explains that "[...] I'm not interested in the texture of the rock, or that it is a rock, but in the mass of it, and its shadow."

The connections between the Precisionist approach and a wider social context were strong. One view was the utopian ideal of technology bringing order to the modern world by enhancing the speed, efficiency, and cleanliness of everyday life. The opposing view stressed the dehumanizing effects of technology, warning that it would replace workers, create pollution, and dominate the landscape in a destructive manner. Occasionally, these two attitudes coexisted in an ambiguous tension within a single work of art.

"Artist friends would say to me, snickering a little, 'What can a camera do in making art. It is just a camera'. Then one of them asks for help in making an image with a camera (a backlit telephone pole with just the foot pegs lit). We made it, he showed it at Otis (College of Art and Design) and people said 'Wow, that's cool'."

By using just a camera and film, and not altering the film image in printing a photograph, what kind of images can be made?

Really the image should be an experience. It should shift you. Make you smile maybe. Remember when you were a child how a simple little thing could galvanize your entire being - time stood still and you felt totally connected to the world - there was a feeling of total contentment? And, an image made with film has a feel to it.

The photograph should be an accurate record of what the camera and film captured, with the absolute minimum disturbance of the captured image during the processing and finishing stages. A transparency film image processed through standard chemistry is the paradigm for an unmanipulated image. So, just a camera and some film.

"It may be assumed that the achievements within a particular medium are the more satisfying aesthetically if they build from the specific properties of the medium."
Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film

SELECT EXHIBITIONS

The Print Center, international mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Kelly Baum, the Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York, NY, and, Jennifer Farrell, Associate Curator, Drawings and Prints, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, 2017
New York Center for Photographic Art, juried group exhibition, juried by Ann M. Jastrab, Gallery Director, Rayko Photo Center and Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Jadite Gallery 413 West 50th St. New York, NY 10019, 2017
A Smith Gallery, juried group exhibition, juried by Michael Kenna, photographer, Johnson City, TX, Johnson City, TX, United States, 2016
Center for Photographic Art, international juried group exhibition, juried by Linde B. Lehtinen, PhD., Assistant Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, CA, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, United States, 2016
Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Susan Snyder, Gallery Director, Caldwell Snyder Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Novato, CA, United States, 2016
International Photography Awards (Lucie Foundation), recent images added to the Agriculture Series, juried group exhibition, various jurors. Honorable mention., Los Angeles, CA, United States, 2016
The Bascom Center For The Visual Arts, "American Art Today: What Is American Art?", mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Dr. William U. Eiland, Director of the Georgia Museum of Art, Highlands, NC., Highlands, NC, United States, 2016
A Smith Gallery, juried group exhibition, juried by Julie Blackmon, photographer, Johnson City, TX, Johnson City, TX, United States, 2016
Axis Gallery, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Gregory Volk, art writer, contributing editor for Art in America, independent curator, and lecturer, New York, NY, Sacramento, CA, United States, 2016
Colorado Photographic Arts Center, juried group exhibition, juried by Tim Wride, Curator of Photography at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL, Denver, CO, United States, 2016
FotoFilmic’16 International Juried Film Photography Competition, international juried group exhibition, various jurors, Shortlist., Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2016
Sanchez Art Center, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Lucía Sanromán, Director of Visual Arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA, United States, 2016
Gallery 110, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Melissa Feldman, independent curator and faculty at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, the California College of Art, the San Francisco Art Institute and Goldsmith’s College in London, Juror award: Field #12. Seattle, WA, United States, 2016
International Color Awards, 9th Annual competition, international juried group exhibition, various jurors, Nominee. 2016., Los Angeles, CA, United States, 2016
Prix de la Photographie Paris (PX3) Annual competition, international juried group exhibition, various jurors. Honorable mention: Agriculture Series, Paris, France, 2015
Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Nancy Meyer, Curatorial Assistant of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, CA, Novato, CA, United States, 2015
Prix de la Photographie Paris (PX3) “White” competition, international juried group exhibition, various jurors. Honorable mention: White Barn., Paris, France, 2015
Sanchez Art Center, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Cathy Kimball, Chief Curator, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, CA, San Francisco, CA, United States, 2015
The Kiernan Gallery, Don't Take Pictures Magazine, juried group exhibition, juried by Kat Kiernan, Roger Thompson, Jack Romano, Kate Ziegler, and Shannon Mohrman, Lexington, KY, United States, 2014
Sanchez Art Center, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Jenny Gheith, assistant curator for painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA, United States, 2014
The Center for Fine Art Photography, juried group exhibition, juried by Susan Spiritus, Director, Susan Spiritus Gallery, CA, Colorado, United States, 2014
The Art of Photography Show, juried group exhibition, juried by Julia Dolan, The Minor White Curator of Photography, Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, San Diego, CA, United States, 2013
International Photography Awards (Lucie Foundation), various jurors, honorable mention Agriculture Series, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 2013
The Photo Review, juried group exhibition, juried by Paul Roth, Senior Curator and Director, Photography and Media Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, United States, 2013
Solo Exhibition, Just A Camera And Film, The Louise Cadeiro Boyer Gallery, Pacific Grove, CA, United States, 2011
Prix de la Photographie Paris (PX3), various jurors, honorable mention, Vineyard Tree, Paris, France, 2010
City of Brea Art Gallery, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Sarah Bancroft, Curator, Orange County Museum of Art, CA, Brea, CA, United States, 2009
"Colors of Life", Capital One Corporate Gallery, Richmond VA (2009, touring to ArtSpace, Richmond, VA, and Kkien Atelier, Milan, Italy 2009) international juried group exhibition, various jurors, Richmond, VA, United States, 2009
1212 Gallery, Manchester National Juried Fine Art Exhibition, Richmond, VA, juried by Elizabeth Schlatter, Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions, University of Richmond Museums, Richmond, VA, United States, 2008
Photo 612, Haddon Heights, NJ, juried group exhibition, juried by Edna Cardinale, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, Haddon Heights, NJ, United States, 2008
City of Brea Art Gallery, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Gloria Williams Sander, Curator, Norton Simon Museum, CA, Brea, CA, United States, 2008
TAG Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by DJ Hall, Santa Monica, CA, United States, 2008
Benham Gallery, group exhibition, curated by Marita Holdaway, Benham Gallery, Seattle, WA, United States, 2007
Irvine Fine Arts Center, mixed media juried group exhibition, juried by Carl Berg, Carl Berg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Irvine, CA, United States, 2007