Beauty of the Ordinary

Bernhard Fuchs, Blue VW Van, Dusseldorf-Heerdt (2003)

Bernhard Fuchs photographs cars. He finds them parked, even abandoned, in rural settings throughout Germany and into Austria, England and the Czech Republic. Vehicles — even ones as cheap and dirty as a Soviet-era Lada — aren’t considered disposable items by Europeans the way they are by many Americans, so Fuchs’ apparently matter-of-fact documentations quickly become loaded with narrative possibilities, right down to their license plates. Have hikers parked and hoofed it? Is someone living in that mud-splashed minibus? Who might be making love in that sedan parked so awkwardly? Fuchs’ eye centers on the auto, but also takes in the surrounding landscape, his camera nonchalantly filling the picture with detail.

Employing a similarly muted sensibility and almost typological sense of the ordinary, Götz Diergarten looks at store façades — or at least he did in this series of Fassaden taken between 1995 and 2001. Letting the subjects speak for themselves serves Diergarten at least as well as it serves Fuchs; in Diergarten’s case, the storefronts offer wild color schemes, elaborate forms and often droll juxtapositions of architecture and commerce. Diergarten hasn’t sought out the wildest designs or the silliest or the dullest; he has chosen signs, windows and doorways that have some sort of goofy, touching poetry to them, a poignancy born of their crassness. Bernhard Fuchs at Gallery Luisotti, Tues.-Fri. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru June 9. (310) 453-0043. Götz Diergarten at Rose Gallery, Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru May 31. (310) 264-8440. Both at Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica.


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