Likeness, Expression, and Character: Presence in Photographs

Nicholas Nixon, The Brown Sisters, Marblehead, Massachusetts, 1995

About the Exhibition

A group exhibition displaying contemporary portraits compiled from the museum’s permanent collection, private collections in Illinois, and the artists.  Since the development of photograph in the mid-nineteenth century, photographers have attempted to reproduce faithfully the likeness of a person and to include in this likeness something of the character of the sitter.  Indeed many motivations and aesthetic premises have stirred photographers to make portraits throughout the history of the medium.  Today, contemporary photographers’ motivations to faithfully reproduce a portrait have not changed.  In many instances sitters are portrayed in their environments, while in others, they are not pictured at all– instead the presence of the individual(s) is revealed metaphorically.  Also photographers have turned their cameras on themselves. 

Featured artists included Diane Arbus, Dawoud Bey, Harry Callahan, Larry Clark, Linda Connor, John Coplans, Eileen Cowin, Bruce Davidson, Roy DeCarava, Susan Derges, Jeanne Dunning, Elliot Erwitt, Jed Fielding, Robert Frank, Dorothea Lange, Don Leddick, Sally Mann, Rhondal McKinney, Duane Michals, Nicholas Nixon, Anne Noggle, Irving Penn, Gary Schneider, Fazal Sheikh, Victor Skrebneski, Joel Sternfeld, Carrie Mae Weems, and Jeffrey Wolin, among others.