Exhibition - Sidney Mishkin Gallery

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Recasting the Figure In Photography:
Portraits, Diversity, and Identity

September 26 – October 24, 2008

Woman and Mannequin, Wilmington, NC, 1950

Elliott Erwitt
Woman and Mannequin, Wilmington, NC, 1950
Gift of Sheldon Itzkoff '52, '57, 1988

The human figure as subject, object, and statement provides rich material for the seventeen photographers whose images are included in this exhibition of works from the Mishkin Gallery's permanent collection. Recasting the Figure in Photography: Portraits, Diversity and Identity will be on view at the Mishkin Gallery from Friday, September 26 – Friday, October 24, 2008. Opening reception on Thursday, September 25, 6 – 8 pm. Free and open to the public.

The photographs in this exhibition range from whimsical to disturbing, from traditional portraits to images of figures that actually are "objects" – statues, mannequins or even shadows or body sections. As a group, they speak to the many meanings we ascribe to the human body and to individual identity.

Edward Steichen's portrait of Joan Crawford exemplifies traditional portraiture at its most stately. Garry Winogrand's figures, captured in fleeting, random moments of daily life, and Milt Hinton's celebrated portraits of his fellow jazz musicians are examples of human figures as traditional subjects at work, at rest, and at play. But some of Hinton's most memorable images, such as one depicting a group of musicians standing before the "Colored Entrance" of an Atlanta, Georgia train station, also raise issues of political identity.

When the human figure is treated as an object, as in the work of the Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, its context and identity are transformed by the camera. In Lucien Clergue's photo of four nudes, only the posteriors of four reclining women are visible, making the photograph essentially a still life formation. In the world of Gilles Peress, individual figures exist – but they are subsumed into a group identity such as "demonstrators" or "worshipers". In the photos of Elliott Erwitt, we see a reversal of reality as actual objects – such as a sculpture or a mannequin – appear as figures.

Rwandan Hutu Refugees Waiting for Medical Attention, Benaco, Tanzania, 1994

Gilles Peress
Rwandan Hutu Refugees Waiting for Medical Attention,
Benaco, Tanzania, 1994

Photographers whose work recasts reality and the identity of the human form in this exhibition include:

  • Manuel Alvarez Bravo
  • Larry Clark
  • Lucien Clergue
  • Elliott Erwitt
  • Walker Evans
  • Ralph Gibson
  • Milt Hinton
  • Jerome Liebling
  • Joel Meyerowitz
  • Gilles Peress
  • Candace Scharsu
  • Cindy Sherman
  • Neil Slavin
  • Edward Steichen
  • Carrie Mae Weems and
  • Garry Winogrand

Mishkin Gallery director Sandra Kraskin served as curator.

Opening Reception:
Thursday, September 25, 6 – 8 pm.

The Sidney Mishkin Gallery is located at:
Baruch College
135 East 22nd Street
New York City

Gallery hours are:
Tuesday – Friday, 12 noon – 5 p.m.
Thursdays, 12 noon – 7 p.m.
All exhibitions at the gallery are free and open to the public.

© 2008 Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College


Manny Romero
(646) 660-6141

Mercedes Sanchez

(646) 660-6112

Sandra Kraskin
Gallery (646) 660-6652

The City University of New York