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The Face of Beauty Image

The Face Of Beauty: The Photographer's Quest for the Inspired Portrait examines the diversity of subjects and manners in which artists choose to utilize the photographic medium to create powerful and intimate, yet oftentimes mysterious portraits. Reaching beyond the superficial exteriors of an individual and revealing a sense of aesthetic and emotional depth through the unique qualities of photography, the variety of strategies which artists employ in photographic portraiture is as diverse as the emotions that it can capture. As seminal photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson believes, “The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.” The relationship between the photographer and his subject has long been a key aspect for a photographer aiming to capture outwardly a sense of how an individual feels inwardly, or to elicit a dynamic physical representation of the subject. This is a major reason why the portrait is considered to be equally an image of the sitter as of the artist. The relationship between subject, camera, and photographer has potentialities to create images that confront a viewer with questions linked to the human experience or even concepts of what “beauty” really encapsulates. The images in Faces of Beauty go beyond portraying merely a superficial likeness and expose an inward condition through more rigorous photographic explorations.

Each of the renowned photographers included in the exhibition have been recognized for their unique ability to capture palpably stirring and interesting portrayals of their subjects. William Ropp, known as “the shadow sculptor,” has a unique style of portraiture. Ropp often places his subjects in complete darkness taking photographs by using long exposures and a 50-year-old Czech flashlight for dramatic illumination effects. He elicits the “soul” of his sitters while making his psychological portraits that are haunting, emotional, and humanistic portraits. Dana Gluckstein’s vision is of the unity of the human spirit whether it is a Haitian healer or a San Bushmen chief. Gluckstein infuses each portrait with an essential dignity and expresses the moral quality and the character of her subjects in such a human way that is devoid of any accidental quality. Albert Watson’s portraits are imbued with a meditative aura and atmosphere through his expert use of lighting of his subjects and his soft, filtered range of colors. Watson’s portraits take the viewer into the image through his distinct visual language that can have an almost surreal feeling and increase our perception of his chosen subjects. Herb Ritts’s portraits typically contain very strong, clean lines and forms, which create a graphic simplicity that allows them to instantly be read and felt by the viewer. Ritts has created portraits of many well-known 20th century figures and his work often challenges conventional notions of gender, sexuality, and race. Taken as a whole, the stirring portraits in The Face of Beauty exemplify the ability of photographic portraiture to present multiplicity of the human conditions in emotional and physical forms of many varieties. The overarching concept behind this exhibition is to join the uniqueness of each photographer with the individuality of each subject.

by Kyle Harris

William Ropp

Dana Gluckstein

Albert Watson

Herb Ritts

Bruce Weber