Joshua Jensen-Nagle’s dreamy echoes of the golden age

Joshua Jensen-Nagle / Modus Gallery

Every generation idealizes one that came before—just ask Gil Pender from Midnight in Paris. Another case in point: the Instagram phenomenon. With a quick point and tap, anyone with an iPhone can create hyper-stylized, retro-shabby art photography that looks straight out of the ’70s. The breezy, warm-toned photos that crowd Facebook feeds and Pinterest boards are pretty but soulless—their desperate artificiality shines through the soft-lit patina. New Jersey-born photographer Joshua Jensen-Nagle embraces the romantic nostalgia of the Instagram generation—but he also brings a fine art sensibility to his lush images.

Jensen-Nagle uses toy and pinhole cameras and hand-treats his prints with gold leaf and splattered paint. The photos of the “Quiet Reminiscence” series were taken in Europe with vintage Polaroid film. The distorted dimensions and filters of the film give the photos their texture; after developing the film, Jensen-Nagle scanned them into large archival inkjet prints and mounted them on Plexiglas.

While Instagram photos might look like your mom’s old beach shots, Jensen-Nagle’s wonderful pieces channel French Impressionist paintings. Even though we know they’re not authentic, the gauzy, blurred images feel as though they were discovered in a box lying around someone’s attic—they capture still waters, stately buildings and cast iron streetlights, evoking imagined memories of 19th-century grand tours. Jensen-Nagle’s dreamy photos are equipped with a wondrous ability: they transport their subjects and their viewers back to an elusive (and illusory) golden age.


Joshua Jensen-Nagle / Modus Art Gallery