New photo exhibition in Nolita shows abstract side of New York City

Photographer Bob Krasner.
Photo by Lauren Brooks

Bob Krasner has been posting his photography on Instagram every day for the past 6 years. Without fail, every day a new white-bordered crisp image will pop up on his profile, often captioned with astute emotions or aspects of the piece. 

The photos mainly feature subtle architecture, often zoomed in, with contrasted highlights either the subject or hidden to balance the image. As one slides their finger to scroll down his feed, the images shift in setting, but an intensity of contrast and aesthetics remain.

A photographer by nature, Krasner has taken photos since his high school years. However, most of his photography until semi-recently has been commercial work— heavy metal studio sessions, corporate, headshots, weddings, galas, bar-mitzvahs, and website branding. For 11 years, he’s also been a contributor to The Villager.

In contrast to his corporate work, the work shown in his latest exhibition “The Shape of the City” has an emphasis on minimalistic abstractionism. Many photos feature silhouetted buildings and shadows against contrasted colors and scenes. Light and bright shapes also play a major role in the shown exhibition photos, giving them a pleasing to the eye distinction. 

Photo by Lauren Brooks

“Part of what they are about is this kind of combination of manmade structures and the sun or the cloud or the sky being nature,” Krasner said. “To me, it’s kind of an interaction of man and nature. A lot of the pictures have really strong right angles in them, which are very unnatural things.”

Krasner pointed to multiple of his images, pointing out the play on the intentional disparity in the elements of the photos. He tweaks his images for as much as two hours sometimes, exploring different compositions, colors and hues in a singular piece. Krasner is deliberate with every photo, making there be meaning and vividity in a seemingly simple part. 

“You’ve got this little cloud and it seems like the building is much more powerful and stronger than the cloud, but what comes out of clouds can actually destroy buildings,” Krasner said. “It’s a bit of an illusion there, I like that. I love the play between the really strong buildings and the really fluffy clouds. It’s the contrast that gives the images meaning sometimes.”

The photos in the exhibition stretch back as far as 5 years ago, but a chunk of them was snapped during the pandemic when Krasner had more time to explore various styles of photography. He brings his camera whenever he leaves the house and galavants around the city, even in something as menial as an appointment.

“It’s partially about the joy of seeing images and sort of translating them through the camera into my vision,” Krasner said. “More often than not, the images to me are not just pretty pictures they have some meaning to me, even like the really minimal.”

Although many of Krasner’s images remain on the minimal side, he recently began playing with the concept of allowing more into the frame. His adherence to posting consistently on Instagram has also influenced his more recent work, noticing that he preferred a horizontal vertical alternation rather than random daily photo orientation switches. This issue caused him to take more horizontal photos, something he wasn’t doing as much previously. 

Photo by Lauren Brooks

“I want people to take away from the images what they feel about them rather than what I feel about them,” Krasner said. “I’m always really happy when people find an image that they react to emotionally.”

The Howl! Archives team handpicked the curation of his images on display. He said that it was an interesting experience allowing others to choose his images, particularly since it’s been a while since his last show.

“I think they did a great job choosing the images,” Krasner said. “It’s interesting because they chose a real variety. I love this gallery and I love the people who run it.”

“The Shape of the City” will be open for public viewing in the Howl! Archives until Oct. 30, featuring 54 unique photos adorning the walls. The art space is at 250 Bowery and is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day with the exception of Mondays and Tuesdays.

Photo by Lauren Brooks