Alone in the Crowd

Kate Dobbs Ariail ©1995

The photographs in William Noland’s Gambling contain the same carefully calculated geometries as his sculpture, but in them the human presence is made explicit. They are powerful as photographs in terms of light, tones and textures, but they are also astonishing in their intimacy. Noland looks at people gambling in different ways—at hipodromos in Madrid and Montevideo, at the New York Stock Exchange, at the Belmont racetrack, at hunt races in Virginia horse country—and by his acute observation of their concentrated attention, he renders images of basic human truth.

In these pictures there is the calculating, the daring, the waiting, the defeat, and most of all, the recurrent hope and exhilaration that accompany every act of gambling. Each gambler is alone in the crowd, pitting his or her individual action against all the forces of chance. The gamblers are completely committed to their bets, just as the artist must be completely committed to each move he makes with his artwork.

While they reflect something about all of us, each of Noland’s photographs is, in a way, a self-portrait of the artist, for whom risk-taking is the great necessity.