Influence and Identity: Twentieth Century Portrait Photography from the Bank of America Collection features the works of international photographers from the early through the mid-twentieth century, a period often called the golden age of portrait photography. The exhibition includes works by master portraitists such as Antony Armstrong-Jones, Richard Avedon, Yousuf Karsh, Gisèle Freund and Chuck Stewart, as well as renowned photographers Berenice Abbott, Imogen Cunningham, Garry Winogrand and Brassaï.
Using photography, a medium born of the modern era, these artists produced images that capture the commanding personalities of celebrated figures in popular culture, politics and the arts. Throughout history, the intent of portraiture has been to capture an individual’s likeness and personality. An important tool for social documentation, portraiture is a form of historical record, marking a person’s image and significance in a specific time and place, as well as the unique viewpoint of the artist who created it.
The many motivations in capturing the likeness of another person may include official state purposes, the remembrance of a loved one or religious veneration—or simply a commission by the influential and powerful to mark their status. Similarly, styles of portraiture and the messages contained within have evolved over time in every manner imaginable. A portrait exists far beyond the moment it was created, often beyond the lifetime of the sitter, allowing the subject to engage with viewers for generations to come. The photographic portraits featured in this exhibition reveal a wide variety of styles, viewpoints and themes, each photographer bringing his or her subjective interpretation to each image. Influence and Identity is a reflection of the photographers and their noteworthy subjects that have come to define the photographic portraiture of a recent era.
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Image: IMMA, courtesy of IMMA