New York: On June 1, 1stdibs at The New York Design Center presents Ground Rules, an exhibition that debuts an edition of nine striking black-and-white photographs of Manhattan street surfaces by photographer Dru DeSantis. The exhibition runs through July 31 at The New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Avenue, in New York.
“My fascination with the almost painterly abstraction that can be achieved through the art of photography is reflected in these black-and-white pigment prints,” says Dru DeSantis, a co-principal of DeSantis Breindel, one of the country’s leading branding and marketing companies. “Uncropped, unretouched and on an exceptional scale, the images can yield great surprises, indeed, they take on a physicality that sometimes hints of danger.”
“What intrigues me about life in New York is the evidence of human interaction on the hard asphalt surface,” she adds. “I want my photographs to reveal the continuous building up and wearing down of boundaries, the imposition and the tearing down of order, all of which is encapsulated in a few square feet of pavement.”
Says DeSantis: “Eye-level is the perspective from which most people view the world, but not for me. I spend a great deal of time walking and observing the pavement below my feet, looking closely. What I discover in the pavement echoes the wonderful chaos of New York, so I decided to start photographing this unobserved world beneath my shoes. The process felt like a journey of discovery. There were so many poetic moments to be found and recorded. I wasn’t focused at all on the people or the traffic, but rather on the indications of the wear and tear they left on the ground, and on the evidence of the effort to repair and remedy that wear and tear.”
A branding and marketing expert for an array of Who’s Who of Fortune 500 companies, DeSantis brings the same serious and dedicated approach to her photography as she does to her work.
She studied with two paragons of Abstract Expressionist photography Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan while she was a graphic-design student at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The influence of these teachers, particularly Siskind, is readable in DeSantis's own photographs. “Siskind was influenced by his circle of friends, who included the great Abstract Expressionists Rothko, DeKooning and Motherwell, all of whom I greatly admire,” says DeSantis. “The greatest works by Siskind are pure abstractions, focusing on the details of a scene to yield an image completely different from the actual subject, creating a work that is Abstract Expressionist.” She combines this approach with a Callahan-like dedication to directional light, which can add or detract from a surface’s dimension. The large photographs, printed on archival rag paper, measure 30” x 42,” and are available in a limited edition of 10.
“After working in the business world for more than 25 years, I felt compelled to devote more time to artistic pursuits,” says DeSantis. “I am honored that my work will debut at 1stdibs at The New York Design Center.”
“1stdibs at The New York Design Center is delighted to present Ground Rules, the debut photography exhibition of Dru DeSantis,” said 1stdibs founder Michael Bruno. “She takes the essence of New York – its streets – and interpreted them in highly artistic and thought-provoking manner.”
ABOUT DRU DeSANTIS
Dru DeSantis leads creative strategy, brand identity and design for clients across industries, including the Fortune 500 and the next Fortune 500. She has stewarded engagements for clients such as Morgan Stanley, Aetna, Deutsche Bank, Lilly, Interactive Data and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, DeSantis founded a design firm that grew to become a recognized leader in creative strategy for corporate and marketing communications. DeSantis Design was later sold to Visual Communications Group, a subsidiary of the Grey Global Group. There, DeSantis partnered with Howard Breindel to build the business into one of the most profitable marketing and communications subsidiaries of Grey Global Group. Together, Breindel and DeSantis co-founded Directors Desk, a revolutionary Internet-based collaboration platform for corporate boards. They built the company into a market leader with clients such as Microsoft, Kodak, American Century and Union Pacific, leading to the company’s sale to NASDAQ. DeSantis’s creative leadership at DeSantis Breindel has built the firm’s reputation for design innovation. She has also led the development of the firm’s foundation and nonprofit branding and marketing business, as well as an award-winning corporate and documentary filmmaking business.
B+B Magazine named DeSantis Brindel The Top Agency of the Year and Inc. Magazine recognized it among the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies.
DeSantis serves as a board member of PlayWorks, a national organization that supports learning by providing healthy and inclusive play to 300 schools in 22 cities nationwide at recess and throughout the entire day.
Ground Rules, the first in an on-going series of art exhibitions highlighting Manhattan street surfaces, opens to the public on June 1 to July 31, at 1stdibs at The New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Avenue, New York. A private reception will be held on June 6, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information visit: www.drudesantis.com or phone: 646-293-6633.