Winter Prather: The Blink of an Eye

Z|Art Dept.

March 3 - April 9, 2011

  • Opening Reception: Friday March 4th from 5-9pm
Winter Prather: The Blink of an Eye at Z Art Dept.
(from the press release)

z|modern presents the book release of a survey of Winter Prather¹s work. The Blink of An Eye opens at z|art dept. on March 3rd. Extending through April 9th. Opening reception from 5p.m.-9p.m. Friday, March 4th.

Winter Prather was one of the most talented fine art photographers working out of Denver during the 1950s and Œ60s. He had an intense impact on a number of people, his remarkable modernist work is timeless and looks fresh and forward even in today¹s image saturated world. Prather was a brilliant artist with an unerring sense for composition, and virtually everything he did, whether for commercial clients or in the pursuit of art, was perfectly balanced. During his 40-plus years of work, he was extremely experimental, and his personal style thoroughly exemplifies the period in which the photos were done. A modernist, Prather came upon his sensibilities more or less instinctively. However, he was also a student of international photography and he was apparently well aware of the examples of vanguard modernists from the pervious generation.

A major part of Prather¹s work involves the Western landscape. Not ordinary, charming or majestic vistas, but artfully‹and unexpectedly cropped‹using ³flaws² that most landscape photographers of his day would have avoided including. He was fascinated by lines that were set against the sky or the scenery, and many of his landscape photos incorporate fences, electric wires or the bare limbs of trees. These linear elements provide a contrast of dark against light, with the viewer needing to see the vista through a kind of screen. Prather¹s skeins of lines make it easy to associate them in formal terms with abstract expressionism.

Given that Prather was interested in abstracting straightforward views of exterior reality, it¹s hardly surprising that he created more thoroughly abstract pieces by manipulating the images during his developing and printing process. He once wrote that ³half a good print is made in the darkroom,² though he failed to mention that the other half is having the eye to frame the shots originally. This reference to the darkroom most clearly refers to images in which he printed his negatives as positives, and many cases works were printed both traditionally and as negatives. The negatives switch the linear elements from dark to light, flipping the typical figure and ground relationships as compared to his positives. It¹s this extraordinary experimentation of pushing the medium of photography to new limits, that makes his work so brilliant and inspiring.

His visionary quality, encouraged by his embrace of mysticism, both ensured the lasting power of his work and, at the same time contributed to the personal wreck of his life. Unfortunately, because Prather died poor and in an unstable mental state, it is impossible to definitely date most of his photos; however, this exhibition includes some photos that are dated, some which were published, providing variable dates as well as some of the oldest dated works from the 1940s.

This exhibition was organized by Randy Roberts, Michael Horsly and Mark Sink

z|modern expresses its gratitude to Mark Sink, Michael Paglia, Michael Horsly, Joey Saraceno and Eric Paddock, Curator of Photography and Media Arts for Denver Art Museum

With a retail shop (z|modern) and two galleries (zeitgeist and z|art dept) located in the Museum District of Denver Colorado and over thirty-five years in the industry, z|modern has built a strong reputation as the leading resource for quality furnishings and accessories in both the contemporary and vintage markets. We are committed to showcasing the finest that modern design has to offer and strive for quality, accuracy and building successful relationships with our clients.

z|art dept. is located at 1136 North Speer Boulevard. It is open 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays throughout the year except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year¹s Day. Further information about exhibits and events can be obtained by calling 303.298.8432 or visiting

Z|Art Dept.
1136 N. Speer Blvd
Denver, CO 80204