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Gallery Opening: Torn, Layered, and in Decay

29 September, 2020 @ 7:00 pm8:00 pm

Torn, Layered, and in Decay: Accident and Intent in the Found Art Photos of William Graebner. Martedì 29 settembre ore 19 via Zoom: temple.zoom.us/j/94497267050

The Gallery of Art of Temple University Rome is pleased to present the exhibition William Graebner, Torn, Layered, and in Decay, opening on the virtual platform Kunstmatrix, on Tuesday September 29 at 7:00pm CEST. The artist will be present at the inauguration, and will lead the audience through the show with a conversation about his work.




I photograph “found art,” an iconography often lacking in intentionality. It is created by accident and serendipity: graffiti on top of graffiti, drips and spills that enhance an image, a poster torn or damaged, the juxtapositions of chance, the chemistry between water and iron. It is not the product of a thoughtful, individual sensibility, and hence is not subject to the limits that govern most art.

Despite its “found” status, there are artists involved: multiple authors who are not, usually, consciously engaged in collaboration and do not intend to create a work of “art.”

Found art is also evanescent, inherently ephemeral, erased by authorities, covered by artistic (or non-artistic) interventions, by a new poster replacing the old. As a result, it is likely to flourish in environments that allow layerings (or de-layerings, in the case of posters) to accumulate: cities where wall writing is ubiquitious and remains undisturbed for long periods: Rome, and to a lesser extent, London, Los Angeles, New York City, and Buffalo.

My photographs emphasize color intensity, abstract form, a painterly materiality, and often a sense of mystery. Most were taken in Rome, some in other cities. The images are not multiple exposures or manipulated collages; they are as I saw them.


William Graebner is Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at Fredonia, where he taught history for more than 30 years. He also taught at the University of Rome in 1993, as Fulbright Professor of American Studies, an assignment that proved critical to his development as a photographer.

Graebner is a widely published author of books and articles on American history—many with a focus on the visual—including books on Patty Hearst, on teenagers in Buffalo, New York, in the 1940s and 1950s (preceded by a major photo exhibit at the Buffalo and Erie County (NY) Historical Society in 1986, which he curated), on the history of retirement, on American culture in the 1940s and, with his wife, Dianne Bennett, on modern Rome, a city he visits for two months each year. He has also written on film, including essays on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and zombie films and the Holocaust. He earned a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Although engaged in photography for many years, Graebner’s interest in “found art/found collage” began with torn posters in Bologna, Italy in 1989, where he lived for six months, and today is focused on the layered, accidental, collaborative, and usually unintended imagery to be found on the complex walls of Rome and other cities.

These days Graebner writes film reviews with Bennett for their website, https://www.2filmcritics.com, maintains a blog on Rome (http://www.romethesecondtime.com, with more than 800 posts and thousands of photographs since 2009), photographs “found art” in Rome, London, Los Angeles, and Buffalo, maintains a photo website, http://www.foundartphotos.com, and posts his work on Instagram @wsgraebner. His first solo exhibition opened in Buffalo in November, 2019.



29 September, 2020
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Temple University Rome Gallery of Art



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