REFIGURING THE PHOTOGRAPH: THE HUMAN FORM AS SUBJECT AND OBJECT

At the Mishkin Gallery, Nov. 19 to Dec. 15, 2004

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Ever since the invention of the camera, the human body has enticed photographers who have treated it both as subject and object.  In the 20th and 21st centuries, photographs of the human form have acquired new and often contested meanings.  Confounding expectations of a naturalistic or “real” world, some photographers have purposely jarred their audiences by manipulating or even deconstructing the human form.

Refiguring the Photograph: The Human Form as Subject and Object draws on a broad range of photographs of the human figure from Baruch College’s permanent collection.  The exhibition, which runs from Friday, Nov. 19 through Wednesday, December 15, 2004, examines the meaning we ascribe to the human body through its context as a subject or an object.  The photographs range from whimsical to disturbing, from traditional portraiture to images of statues, mannequins, or even shadows or body parts.  In some cases, individual photographs may overlap the boundaries between these categories and defy theories of classification.

The opening reception for this exhibition is Thursday, Nov. 18, 6 – 8 pm.

Images in which the human form is clearly perceived as a subject include Gary Winogrand’s figures depicted in the fleeting, random activities of daily life and Edward Steichen’s celebrated portraits of movie stars, including such legends as Greta Garbo, Rudolph Valentino and Joan Crawford.  Also in this group are the subjects of Gilles Peress’s poignant visual commentaries on the lives of refugees from Bosnia and Rwanda.

When the human figure is treated as an object, its meaning is transformed by the camera.  This can be seen in work of the Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo as well as in photographs such as Ralph Gibson’s Window Washer, Paris and Larry Fink’s Silk Legs—Regine, NYC, both of which use sections of the body to signify and objectify the whole.

This exhibition includes the work of some of the most outstanding and controversial photographers of our time including  Steichen, Gibson, Jerome Liebling, Joel Meyerowitz,  Neil Slavin, Elliott Erwitt and the legendary jazz bassist, Milt Hinton.

The Mishkin Gallery is located at Baruch College, 135 E. 22 Street, NewYork City. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, Noon to 5 pm; Thursday, Noon to 7 pm. The gallery is free and open to the public.