Of August Sander, Richard Avedon: history of the portrait

Foto Collectania meets in a sample of nearly 200 portraits from The Walter Collection, and an overview of the history of the genre from the beginnings of photog

Of August Sander, Richard Avedon: history of the portrait

Foto Collectania meets in a sample of nearly 200 portraits from The Walter Collection, and an overview of the history of the genre from the beginnings of photography in 1839 up to the present it says a lot of how they have been represented genders, and identities

How they have portrayed themselves different societies and cultures throughout history? They have made it through novels, paintings, films and even songs, but one of the best ways to travel to the past -with a deadline: 1839, when it was invented, photography is still the portrait, a genre that says almost as much of the subject immortalized as the that triggers the camera. Travel by the mentality of different times and continents, it is what proposes the Structures of identity. The Walther Collection that, until the next two shows in February in the Fundación Foto Collectania about 200 pictures of masters such as August Sander, Richard Avedon or Seydou Keïta and contemporary photographers such as Samuel Fosso, Zhang Huan and Zanele Muholi.

When photography was born, many saw in it a way to capture the reality without being processed, such as a mirror. Daguerreotypes were expensive and not many could afford them, but those that existed were used almost as a scientific tool, a test that is beyond reproach. And it was then when it arose the will to portray to society, and, in that same year, categorizarla.

that is what made August Sanders with his legendary series on The Face of Our Time, 60 portraits that aimed to freeze the German society of the 20s according to their trades and occupations. In the exhibition there are 14 prints on gelatin and silver that are a reflection of the archetype of the emerging bourgeoisie of the time: the artist, the baker, the student, the farmer... the series of Sanders remains a point of reference even today, the majority of school text books German include them, but beyond that the series portrays, you have to wonder what it leaves out, above all because in the decade of the 20's there were already nazis.

The 'Pastry chef' from the series 'The face of our time' of August Sander.

And of the Germany of the 20's to the Africa of the 50. Seydou Keïta opened a studio of commercial photography in Bamako (Mali) in 1948 and spent many citizens that were left to portray a formal way, with the framing classic study, but with clothes, add-ons, aspirational way of props (radios, expensive watches) and textile prints with fabrics typically african that reflect a new pride in full swing, and a fierce hunger of cosmopolitanism. Shortly after those portraits "highly aware", in 1959, would the independence of Mali from France and the portraits of Keïta have been left for posterity as the image of the "new african".

The displays also a series of portraits attributed to Thomas Cunningham dated in 1885 of prisoners by americans. Are the first work of forensic police based on the method of the criminologist frenchman Alphonse Bertillon, who devised a system to classify offenders according to the characteristics of your face, or face (in slang, mug, hence the colloquial expression of mug shot for this type of photo). Cunningham was sheriff in Stockton, California, and took seriously the theory of Bertillon which ensured that some facial features determined psychological traits and behavior. Made up to 42.000 portraits of prisoners of different jails.

Another of the series that collects the exposure is to The Family of Richard Avedon, an interview long for the Rolling Stone magazine that was published in 1976. The assignment was to portray the presidential candidates of the united States, but Avedon decided to be a little more ambitious and embarked on a journey around the country to portray to the pantheon of the political class american. The magazine needed a whole number to publish the 69 portraits of Avedon, 24 of which you can see in Foto Collectania. The result is a uniformity overwhelming: the vast majority of statesmen, lawyers, union leaders, and the officials portrayed are middle-aged white men and all of them seem to have made the suit worn in the same tailor. Avedon, that owes its fame to its magnificent work in fashion editorials, but in the 60's and 70's was very engaged with the political movements that shook the country, outlined an elite of political power monochrome and allergic to the diversity in the background, and behind the facade of the american classic respectable, seemed to be very far from reality. A look at the portraits of Avedon, and the recent outcome of the midterms in american shows that, at least in which race and ethnic variety, much has changed in american politics in four decades.

The community queer in south Africa and the self-portraits of Samuel Fosso dressed up as the charismatic civic leaders, african americans of the 60's (of Angela Davis, Malcolm X or Mandela) complete an exhibition that serves to highlight what is prohibited but also to dissect the construction of myths and legends, identities and stereotypes.

this Is the first time that you can see in Spain a sample of the Walther Collection, the collection of Arthur Walther, a German who in the 80's made his fortune on Wall Street and in 1994 left his job as an executive at Goldman Sachs to devote himself to the collecting. More than 3,000 original works are part of the collection, which is specializing in photographers non-western, particularly african and asian. To Walther, explained to her step by Barcelona, he is especially interested in collecting the work of those photographers who portray the world outside of the western canon. That's why in recent years has focused its attention on the photography and video art, and african since the late 90's has intesificado his trips to China, a country that he met in full openness post-Tiananmen.

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Date Of Update: 26 November 2018, 20:01