Barry Ratoff & Charles Tracy “Together Apart”


poster for Barry Ratoff & Charles Tracy “Together Apart”
[Image: Charles Tracy "Bobby Breslau, Fire Island Pines" (C.1968 Printed 2021) Inkjet Print, 14 x 7.5in.]

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FIERMAN presents Together Apart, an exhibition of new drawings by New York-based artist Barry Ratoff alongside photographs from the 1960’s and ‘70’s by the deceased fashion photographer Charles Tracy. Ratoff and Tracy met on Fire Island in 1973 and were professional collaborators and romantic partners for nearly two decades, with Ratoff serving as studio manager and creative consultant in Tracy’s photography studio, a milieu in which fashion designers Stephen Burrows and Halston and his coterie were regular clients.

Puerto Rican-born Charles Tracy (1934-2015) grew up in Brooklyn and in the late 1960’s began working in fashion photography. He got his launch from Joel Shumacher and Carrie Donovan, then editors at Vogue scouting young talent, photographing Stephen Burrows’ designs. A mainstay of the febrile 1970’s scene, he traveled with Halston and Burrows to Paris to shoot the now legendary 1973 Battle of Versailles fashion show in which American designers thrust themselves onto the international stage. Tracy’s photographs evince the easy joy and promiscuous potential of the era. Casual intimacy is a hallmark of his style, depicting smart beautiful girls like Pat Cleveland alongside louche, impossibly young men in unstudied shots. The sweetly libidinous atmosphere extends beyond the frame, engendering the feel of a month-long, synesthetic stay at Norton and Marlo Sloan’s Horace Gifford-designed beachfront house in Fire Island Pines.

Barry Ratoff (b. 1948, Bronx, NY) was one of the impossibly young, beautiful boys floating through the effervescence of 1970’s gay New York who caught Tracy’s eye and remained in focus as both boyfriend and studio hand. Following their professional break up in 1991, Ratoff began exhibiting his drawings at the Paul Morris Gallery, Peter Kilchmann Gallery, Anthony Meier Fine Art, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, and The Drawing Center, among other venues. Primarily made in the past year, the formally heterogenous suite of drawings on view appear as dispatches from the sidelines of an all-night dance party in a parallel universe. Ratoff’s style is at once upbeat and melancholic, as in What Do I Know (Walk Along the Shore), in which obsessive layers of the same scribbled cursive lines of a repeated self-admonishing question (“What Do I Do?”) morph into a languid disco seascape to the tune of Along the Shore by Barrabas.



from January 12, 2022 to February 20, 2022

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