In Light of the Past: Twenty-Five Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art
I’m drawn to portraits, which is sooooooo not-the-modern-era. The National Gallery of Art, in choosing which 175 photographs it’s collected over the last 25 years to display, offers an array of images to choose from. The scientifically-inclined are even encouraged to contemplate the balance between art and science, especially in early photography. But I’m more social. I like to stare at people, and life presents so few socially-acceptable staring opportunities.
When I stare at portraits, I delve into pores. I ponder whether eyes are the windows to the soul. I wonder if the child knows what it would mean if the gun were loaded. I marvel at perfectly-drawn eyebrows. I imagine what skin feels like. I follow the slope of a nose and contemplate if it came from the mother or the father. I study the weave of a jacket for the sound it must make when it rubs together. I wonder about immortality. I wait for eyes to follow me, and sometimes they do.
In Light of the Past: Twenty-Five Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. through July 26, 2015.
Images above from top-left to bottom right are Diane Arbus – A Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street, NYC – 1966, Roy DeCarava, Mississippi Freedom Marcher, Washington, D.C., 1963, William Klein – Boy Plus Girl Plus Gun – 1955, Edward Steichon – Rodin – 1907, Paul Strand – Rebecca – 1922, Frederick H. Evans – Aubrey Beardsley – 1894.