Favorite Works: Subjective Objectivity

2015-06-04 10.48.35

by Katrina Fausnaugh, Arts Management Intern

While working on the exhibition Subjective Objectivity: Documentary Photography as Fragments of Experience in my Art History capstone class, I got the opportunity to see a lot of really cool and interesting photographs. Today, I just wanted to share a couple of my favorites with you! So without further ado, here are my favorite photographs currently on display in the exhibition, and some reasons why I find them so compelling.

“Youths, Kenya” 1980, Fritz Klemperer (American, b. 1946). Black and White photograph, hand-colored, Gift of Sterling Cook.

When our class began the curating process, we spent a couple of class periods in one of the back rooms of the museum, looking at all of the photographs that we could choose from to include in the exhibition, and discussing which we thought would be most appropriate to include given the theme of the class and of our exhibition. The above photograph, Fritz Klemperer’s Youths, Kenya, was an absolute favorite of mine from the moment I saw it during these sessions at the museum. I think that part of what I found so interesting about it was the unusual hints of color throughout the image, visible especially in the flowers pinned to the shirts of the two youths. I later found out that this was a result of hand-coloring by the photographer, who developed the images in black and white, and then added subtle touches of color to highlight certain aspects of the photographs. As documentary photography goes, this is not really a common technique, and I think of it as more related to the realm of art photography. As one of the major themes of the exhibition though, I thought that the hand-coloring of the photograph brought up an interesting point about the supposed objectivity of photography – the decision to color the photographs certainly represents a subjective choice on the part of the photographer. And of course, I also think that overall this is a very beautiful and striking image, which is another reason I like it so much.

“Puffy’s Tavern” 2010, Donna Ferrato (American, b. 1949). Archival pigment print, Gift of Mr. Christopher Campbell.

Another of my favorites, which I really liked from early on in the curating process, is this photograph by Donna Ferrato, titled Puffy’s Tavern. It is from her Tribeca series of photographs, which document the Tribeca neighborhood in New York City. This image in particular is of the inside of a tavern, showing a group of people watching a World Cup soccer match on a television located somewhere behind the photographer. I thought this image was fascinating because of its composition and use of reflections. When our class was looking at this photograph in the museum before deciding to select it for the exhibition, it took us the longest time to figure out where the photographer was in relation to the scene, from what vantage point she was taking the picture, and which aspects of the scene were just reflections and which were actually in front of her . It is actually fairly simple – Ferrato took the image through a glass case within the tavern, and you can see both the photographer and the front window of the tavern reflected in the glass. It is interesting because this all comes together into a very complex-looking image, which is simply the product of an unusual vantage point by the photographer.

So, these are my favorites works on display in the exhibition Subjective Objectivity: Documentary Photography as Fragments of Experience. Come visit the museum, and decide for yourself what works on display you like best! Subjective Objectivity will be open through June 25.