As a child, Luisa Lambri attended Giuseppe Terragni’s Sant’Elia nursery school in Como, Italy, with its high-ceilinged, light-filled rooms. Today, although she doesn’t style herself an architectural photographer, she takes photos in buildings (mostly houses) by celebrated architects. ‘My images correspond to a personal idea of the space rather than provide an objective description of the building. I try to suggest a state of being, an atmosphere,’ she said in Locations – the catalogue to her show at Houston’s Menil Collection in 2004. But I’ve sometimes thought that her work, with its strong tendency to abstraction, differs little from that of photographers who do call themselves ‘architectural’ and simply cherish detail. Given the art market’s current infatuation with photography, I thought maybe she’d just got lucky.
I can’t say that her current exhibition at the Thomas Dane Gallery in London’s ultrarespectable St James’s entirely dispels such suspicions, but its centrepiece is impressive: six photographs of a room in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, New York, revealed by a chink of light, where the art-glass signals Wright, but not a particular dwelling. The gallery’s handout suggests they could be seen as ‘a homage to Dan Flavin’, which is ingenious but misleading, because the thin line of light has none of the intensity of Flavin’s fluorescent tubes. Like dawn stealing into a room in which you haven’t quite closed the curtains,the effect is atmospheric – just as Lambri seems to wish. www.thomasdane.com