Jennifer Blessing

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Speaking With Hands
by Jennifer Blessing
Publisher's Description
Essays by Jennifer Blessing, Kirsten Hoving and Ralph Rugoff. Foreword by Henry Buhl and Thomas Krens. The photographer's easy ability to capture the fragment and detail, as well as ephemeral movements, encouraged the representation of the hand from the inception of the medium. Instances of this subject are found across a range of photographic practices, including scientific, journalistic, and fine art photography, and throughout time, from the 19th-century daguerreotype to the contemporary light box. Speaking with Hands groups a remarkable collection of these photographs thematically and historically. In 'Portraits,' photographs of hands, like Dorothea Lange's Migratory Cotton Picker, Eloy Arizona (1940), reveal the nature of the sitter's profession-in this case farmer-as well as racial, ethnic, and age identity. Others, like Alfred Steichen's 1920 image of Georgia O'Keeffe's hands, purport to reveal the source of the sitter's celebrity. 'Hand Signs' documents the myriad codes with which hand gestures convey meaning, be it through ASL, theatrical conventions, or rhetorical gesture; as well, this section considers images, like Andres Serrano's The Morgue (Knifed to Death I) (1992), in which the details of the hand are examined in order to determine identity. 'The Manipulated Image' includes abstract and manipulated work from the 1930s to the 1950s, by such avant-guardists as El Lissitzky, André Kertész, and Man Ray, in which the hand appears in a fragmented and fetishized form. The photographs in 'The Cinematic Image,' shot mostly in the 1950s, poetically represent the real world in a documentary style. In these images by Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Helen Levitt, the hand is disproportionately the bearer of meaning. In 'Conceptual Photography' from the 1970s Vito Acconci, Ana Mendieta, Bruce Nauman, and others used the camera to document the intersection of their bodies and their environment, often using the hand as a unit of measure and denotation of reality. And over the last 20 years, we find the hand in 'Contemporary Art' by Janine Antoni, Chuck Close, Anna Gaskell, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, and many others.
ISBN: 0892073012
Publisher: Guggenheim Museum
Hardcover : 264 pages
Language: English
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