NEW YORK – Facing the Camera will be on view at Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs from January 16 through March 16, 2018. The exhibition presents nineteenth-century portraits by Duchenne de Boulogne, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, J. B. Greene, Hill & Adamson, Nadar, and Vallou de Villeneuve, among others. Contemporary work by Adam Fuss and Vera Lutter is also included. Both are inspired by the early photographers and their work resonates with that of their forerunners.
Portraiture is the most expressive application of the photographic art form. Since the dawn of photography artists have sought ways to capture the human likeness. Once achieved, photography has since challenged the ascendancy of the painted portrait.
The exhibition includes three rare 1862 albumen prints from glass negatives made circa 1856 by pioneering neurologist and physiologist Duchenne de Boulogne (1806-1875), the first scientist to explain that facial expressions were connected to human emotions through discrete muscle actions. The results of Duchenne’s experiments and collaboration with photographer Adrien Tournachon, illustrated in Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine, occupy a distinct place at the intersection of art and science.
John Beasley Greene’s (1832-1856) Venus de Milo on rooftop in Paris, a waxed paper negative from 1852-1853, will also be on view. It was made during Greene’s formative period as a student of Gustave Le Gray in Paris. Greene, perhaps in the company of Le Gray, carried his statuette of Venus to the roof in order to sharpen his skills in lighting and composition.
A young girl, Xie Kitchin, fixes the viewer with her direct stare in an 1873 albumen print by Lewis Carroll, best known as the author of Alice in Wonderland. Carroll once declared that the key to obtaining excellence in a photograph was simply to “take a lens and put Xie before it.” On display is the only known untrimmed print from the negative.
Facing the Camera includes a 1931 gelatin silver print of Detail of the Shroud of Turin by Giuseppe Enrie (1886-1961). Great advances in technology since earlier photographs of the Shroud enabled Enrie to photograph it close-up and life size. This print shows a richness of detail unsurpassed by later photographs.
Vera Lutter (b. 1960) has worked with the camera obscura for many years. Having mastered its use she exposes her photographic paper over varying lengths of time. Rather than a print of the positive image, Lutter consistently preserves the negative as her final work. On display is Lutter’s unique, Marble Torso of Eros, Metropolitan Museum, 5 November 2012, which highlights the expressive, sculpted human form.
For more than three decades, Adam Fuss (b. 1961) has created a body of work distinctive for its contemporary reinterpretation of photography’s earliest techniques. His pinhole photographs and cameraless photograms, executed with technical rigor, are often concerned with temporality, memory, regeneration, and death. Untitled silhouette, 1997, a toned silver print from a photogram, is a strikingly bold self-portrait.
Facing the Camera will be exhibited from January 16 through March 16, 2018 at Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs in New York City.