About Faces

Paul Strand, New York (portrait of a Man in hat), 1917
photogravure, 8 x 10 inches

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to announce About Faces., an exhibition of photographs centering on the notion of the psychological portrait. The exhibition assembles a variety of approaches to the study of the human face in order to highlight the complexities inherent to portraiture.

Portraiture has unwaveringly held strong rank among the categories of image-making for the challenges it inspires. Capturing the face and telling something of the subject’s psychology is an old riddle. The history of the document reveals countenances both clarified and confounded by their representations. About Faces. includes approximately fifty portraits spanning the history of photography and delivers images whose relationships to their subjects waver between distant, almost to the point of inscrutability, to strikingly intimate.

Considering the challenge of transcribing a face, About Faces. culls a group of portraits which are, by their nature and complexity, psychological portraits. These photographs map the intricate relationship between photographer and subject, the degree to which each concedes to the other in the project of making the portrait. All of the images demand the mediation of the viewer in order to extricate the subtext of the subject’s mind given the text of her face. Included in the exhibition are photographs by Diane Arbus (the unrelenting gaze offered us by the Woman in the Rose Hat), Chuck Close (with an intimate study of his own face), Nan Goldin (with a very recent self-portrait), Alfred Stieglitz (with a striking portrait of his wife, the artist Georgia O’Keeffe), among others.

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