With the popularity of camera phones, more and more people regularly take pictures of themselves, their loved ones, and their friends. Almost all of us are now portraitists. Yet the photographs in this display remind us that great artists can bring something special to the task of capturing a personality on film. They do much more than simply record faces.
These photographs from the Cincinnati Art Museum collection, which were taken across nearly the whole of the twentieth century, possess distinct compositional characteristics. Some are close-ups; some are formal, even a little rigid; others capture spontaneous action. Does a portrait photograph tell us more about the subject or the photographer? When the subjects are themselves artists who have thought hard about their public image, this collaboration provides a special opportunity to reflect upon how a portrait comes into being.
Image: Barbara Morgan (American, 1900–1992), Merce Cunningham—Root of the Unfocus, 1944, gelatin silver print, The Albert P. Strietmann Collection, 1980.102. © Barbara Morgan, Barbara Morgan Archives
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