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Charles Johnstone | American, 1952 -

Charles Johnstone's photographs are straight forward and precise. Much of this can be traced to the artists who first inspired his work - he takes cues from the American photographers of the 1960s and 1970s, whose reserved approach reshaped how we saw the urban landscape. The title of his book, Thirtyfour Basketball Courts, is itself a nod towards an earlier homage to another great use of inner-city asphalt - Edward Ruscha's Thirtyfour Parking Lots. This slim volume, published in 1967, catalogued acres of empty lots in mechanical style - aerial photographs that would not look out of place in the annual report of a commercial real estate firm. Yet while the serial approach that he admires in Ruscha still holds appeal, and Johnstone has gone to great lengths to make his scenes equally free of people - not just on the court but pedestrians who might amble unawares into the frame - their similarities end very quickly. As carefully structured as his photographs are, Johnstone's images project none of the wry sarcasm or the ironic critique of his western mentors. He is, at the end of the day, a sensualist, and his photographs of New York are an affectionate record of the city that Johnstone has called home his entire life.