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Polaroid: Instant Joy

With the convenience of digital media it’s only the rare purist or enthusiast who would bother with something as archaic as actual film or the time-consuming process of developing it, but there is one relic that has maintained its popularity since its commercial boom in the 60s: the Polaroid. This has everything to do with the fact that a Polaroid fulfills our need for both nostalgia and instant gratification in an experience that engages the consumer with the product in a way that a regular 35mm camera just doesn’t. From pulling the print from the negative sheet, shaking it and eagerly awaiting the results, the Polaroid became an interactive user experience.

The unpredictability of the image and the inability to control it (no zooms to play with or shutter speeds to adjust) became part of the appeal and part of its successful foray into the art world. Andy Warhol made thousands of Polaroids; His most famous are his large format portraits. Walker Evans too became entranced. The black and white documentary photographer was fascinated by the hyper-real color and the way “the pictures come out like presents.”

“Polaroid: Instant Joy” takes a look at how different photographers and artists have used the medium, including work from Chuck Close, Sally Mann, William Wegman, Michael Anton, Jack Johnston, Robert Vizzini and Jennifer Trausch. Through July 31, 2010 at A.M. Richard Fine Art in Brooklyn.