The Portrait. Photography as a Stage

3/7 2009 — 18/10 2009
Museumsquartier / Halle2

I am visible,
I am image.
Jean Baudrillard

When the history of photography began to unfold with portraiture in the nineteenth century, one’s own image was cause for astonishment and rapture. Since its discovery, the photographic medium has satisfied people’s desire for their likeness and largely replaced the more demanding and costly painting. Considering the new technologies available today, with which it has become possible to manipulate any image easily, inexpensively, and quickly and to change and improve the appearance of the human body as desired, the role of the portrait as a mirror of the subject’s personality and as a medium of identification has to be aesthetically questioned and recontextualized.

Starting with Robert Mapplethorpe’s formalist studio photography, Peter Hujar’s intimate psychological pictures, and Nan Goldin’s visual diary, the exhibition explores the changes of portrait photography since 1980. Searching for beauty, authenticity, and a personal visual language, artists have since then developed an unconventional art of portraiture encompassing glamour and mise-en-scène, radical realism, snapshot, irony, and documentary objectivity. The selected works combine to form a panorama of today’s image of man, where icons of society appear next to anonymous individuals.


Roger Ballen, Tina Barney, Valérie Belin, Dirk Braeckman, Clegg & Guttmann, Andrea Cometta, Anton Corbijn, Rineke Dijkstra, Amy Elkins, JH Engström, Bernhard Fuchs, Alberto Garcia-Alix, Luigi Gariglio, Anthony Gayton, Nan Goldin, Greg Gorman, Katy Grannan, Jitka Hanzlová, Peter Hujar, Jean-Baptiste Huynh, Leo Kandl, Barbara Klemm, Gerhard Klocker, Andreas Mader, Sally Mann, Robert Mapplethorpe, Hellen van Meene, Judith Joy Ross, Thomas Ruff, Stefano Scheda, Beat Streuli, Wolfgang Tillmans

Curator: Peter Weiermair

A discussion on the subject will, among other things, focus on the role of photography in Austria, the issue analogous vs. digital photography, and photographic portraiture.

Guided tours: every Sunday 3 pm