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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grim Photography at the National Portrait Gallery

By the Queen of Free

Then there is the photography exhibit on the first floor ("Portraiture Now: Feature Photography"), many of the photographs which can be seen online.

If you are looking for a cheery spot over the holidays, if you need a bit of a psychological lift amidst all the Christmas cheer, this is not the exhibit to visit.

Is the National Portrait Gallery becoming the National Photography Gallery?

Anyway, if you want your daughter to grow up to be a body builder not, take her to this exhibit and take a gander at the two photographs of female muscle giants. Yeeks! My gender stereotypes shaped my impressions to put it mildly.

Photographer Alec Soth shows all grim women, heads tilted, meaning ? , their heads are not on straight? Jocelyn Lee's photographs are mostly women, some boys and an old man in environmental settings.

Up too close for comfort and way too personal are Martin Schoeller's Jack Nicholson (immediate words which spring to mind are “The Shining” and “The Old Cuss”), Barack Obama (“handsome dude”), John McCain (his bloodshot eyes and other age realities make him look far older than you've grown to know him), and Angelina Jolie (how many lip injections?).

It’s a sad, depressing world we occupy nowadays, and and these photographs bear testimony to the whole negative lot, especially Katy Grannam’s child in an adult prison in New York (is this still lawful?) and a few which show female veterans and the dreadful psychological effects of war.

The artists took many of the photos on assignments for the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times magazine. This exhibit is not to be confused with the magnificent “Women of Our Time: 20th Century Photographs" show in another wing. More on that later.

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