Malleable Likeness and the Photographic Portrait

May 19 – August 30, 2009

Installation view

Installation view

Although portraits have been produced for centuries in a variety of media, photography has played a pivotal role in the genre's history.

To a large extent, the photographic portrait's popularity stemmed from the medium's capacity to quickly and inexpensively reproduce a sitter's appearance with an unprecedented degree of mimetic detail. At the same time, photographers have consistently complicated the notion that a photographic portrait faithfully reproduces a sitter's physiognomy.

This exhibition—which includes works by Julia Margaret Cameron, August Sander, Berenice Abbott, and Vik Muniz, among others—considers the malleable role of likeness in portrait photography from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

The exhibition features photographs generously loaned to the Smart Museum from the collection of Lester and Betty Guttman.