Ralph Gibson, Untitled (Bronze Divan), Paris, 1982

Ralph Gibson (American, b. 1939), Untitled (Bronze Divan), Paris, 1982

Ralph Gibson (American, b. 1939), Untitled (Bronze Divan), Paris, 1982. Photogravure, 22 x 18 in. Gift of Dr. Kristaps J. Keggi, 1989.135

Photography’s focus has the capacity to unsettle the familiarity of homely objects. With the same techniques of intimate close-up, photographs can present objects of a luxury and shape far removed from the actualities of our domestic space as if we could sink into them as readily as into an everyday lounger. A Turkish sofa, the divan became the daybed in the décor of the aesthete, the erotic prop of Orientalist fantasy, the psychoanalytic couch for free association, and the vehicle of dreams. The sensual gleam of its cushions beckon us to look closely, tantalizing us with the promise of what might appear out of the darkness. And yet our projections onto its curving forms arc back to make the secret of its style our beds to lie in.