Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty
Image 1 / 7: Don Wallen. Untitled.
Image 2 / 7: Hans L. Jorgensen. Frederick & Nelson Hair Salon Photograph.
Image 3 / 7: Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty [installation view].
Image 4 / 7: Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty [installation view].
Image 5 / 7: Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty [installation view].
Image 6 / 7: Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty [installation view].
Image 7 / 7: Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty [installation view].
Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty is an exhibition that investigates the transformative experience of the photograph. This exhibition explores historical perceptions of beauty and desire through artistic and ethnographic imagery and the role individual photographers play in constructing ways of seeing. Through the themes of idealized beauty, the unfashionable body, the gendered image, and photography as memory, the exhibition challenges and makes problematic the “reading” of photographic images in the twenty-first century. Out [o]Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty addresses ways in which the Henry Art Gallery and the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, have collected all forms of photography in an effort to capture the times depicted. The collections include images by women photographers such as Gertrude Käsebier, Lisette Model, and Imogen Cunningham who questioned and created a counter-narrative to earlier images of women. Also found are photographs by Lewis Hickes Hine and Bruce Davidson documenting political events and changing times, and photo documentation of historical figures like Frederick Douglass, who forever changed our understanding of democracy. Both collections acquired works by well-known as well as lesser-known photographers.
The exhibition is also about seeing and being seen and aims to stimulate conversation about how visual culture and concepts of identity and beauty shaped both collections. Portraits, new-media art, and other photographic imagery focus on aesthetics and the framing of beauty and difference in the human form. The exhibition invites visitors to conduct a visual reading of the portrait within the context of video and ethnographic, commercial, and art photography. In this context, photographs and digital imagery mediate between idealization and imagination. Featuring the work of more than fifty internationally recognized photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Edward Curtis, Nan Goldin, Andre Kertesz, Lee Friedlander, Lorna Simpson, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and Carrie Mae Weems, this exhibition honors and acknowledges these striking collections and their collecting patterns since their inception.