The Lens Gazes Back:
Reflections in Black and White on Classic Beauty
6/13/2015 - 8/1/2015
The lens of a camera processes visual information by acting like a mirror that reflects back, without prejudice, whatever is placed in front of it. The creativity of a photographer is largely decided by the manner in which they place their subjects in front of a lens and who they decide to put there. In the summer survey exhibition of portraiture and figure studies, "The Lens Gazes Back," the subjects captured by the photographers are aware that they are being scrutinized through the camera. Their allure provides the drama that makes the photographs compelling. Whether the photographer's subjects are supermodels, famous actresses, political figures, or artists they project firstly a visual likeness, but then a more powerful subjective appeal. They present a heightened presence where style, elegance, creativity, and culture all work together in varying degrees to create a picture that inspires us. When a photograph is engaging, what we see opens up what we think and feel about the subjects before us.
George Hoyningen-Huene and Horst P. Horst's early yet enduring fashion images continue to enthrall with the allure created by the interplay between photographer, subject, and style. On the other hand, photographers such as Harry Benson have used the medium’s dynamic interactions in creating unique portrayals of historical figures and their projected personas that are preserved for posterity. Today, the work of contemporary photographers Cathleen Naundorf and Jim Lee continue to originally engage with what the lens can capture in this remarkable interplay. “The Lens Gazes Back” invites the viewer to witness the unique manners in which cameras are used in order to engage their subjects and our own attention in creating unique visual portraits.