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The Faceless Figure: Photographs from the Collection

December 20, 2003–June 27, 2004

The human figure has long been a favorite subject of the camera. In this exhibition of more than fifty photographs from the museum’s collection, artists purposely defy our expectations and the conventions of portraiture by taking pictures of people whose faces we can’t see. The result is a body of pictures ranging from the unsettling to the hilarious.

Photographers Edward Weston and Barbara Morgan concentrate on the beauty and eloquence of the human torso, while Lee Friedlander finds humor in figures whose faces are obscured by a camera or a placard. In some images, the anonymity of the figure is used to suggest Everyman, while others teach us that it is not just our faces that make us individuals. Techniques used by the photographers include back views, silhouetting, and cropping. Other figures are cloaked, masked, or in motion. The exhibition includes inventive images by a wide range of photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Connie Imboden, William Larson, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and Jerry Uelsmann.

Main Building


Katherine Ware, Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center

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