PDN Photo of the Day

Is that a Smile or a Scream?

In Focus: Expressions, an exhibition featuring 45 works drawn from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s permanent collection, addresses the enduring fascination with the human face.

The show begin with perhaps the most universal expression: the smile. Although today smiling is synonymous with the camera, it wasn’t standard photographic practice until the 1880s. And, as evident in the exhibition, the smile comes in all variations – the genuine, the smirk, the polite, the joyful.

The images in the show question the role of the camera in capturing un-posed moments and fleeting expressions that would otherwise go unnoticed. Is Mary, the subject of Alec Soth’s image, screaming or laughing?

In addition, In Focus: Expressions, digs into physiognomy, the often problematic study of the link between the face and the human psyche. The exhibition also looks at current developments in facial recognition technology and examines the figurative and literal concept of the mask.

The human face is, after all, a crucial, if often enigmatic, element of portraiture.

Alec Soth, Walker Evans, Nicholas Nixon and Nancy Burson are among the photographers included in the exhibition.

In Focus: Expressions
J. Paul Getty Museum
through October 7, 2018

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