In photography, the human face has always been a subject of intense fascination. Initially after the medium’s invention in the early nineteenth century, technological limitations and portrait conventions constrained sitters’ expressions. Eventually technology caught up, and photographers could evoke personality through countenance and pose, or explore facial features to understand a subject’s state of mind.
Drawn from the Museum’s collection, this exhibition includes posed portraits, physiognomic studies, anonymous snapshots, and unsuspecting countenances, offering a close-up look at the range of human stories that facial expressions—and photographs—can tell.
(Photo: Alec Soth, Mary, Milwaukee, WI, 2014, inkjet print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, gift of Richard Lovett. © Alec Soth/Magnum Photos)