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Posing Beauty

Tisch School of Art's Gulf and Western Gallery
721 Broadway, 212-998-1930
Greenwich Village
September 1 - October 18, 2009
Web Site

The Department of Photography & Imaging in the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has announced its first fall show will be Posing Beauty, an exhibition of approximately 80 works—including black and white, color, and digitized photographs; video installations; and web-based projects—drawn from public and private collections. The exhibition explores the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts in a diverse range of media.

Throughout the history of Western art and image-making, beauty has been idealized and challenged, and the relationship between beauty and art has become increasingly complex within contemporary art and popular culture, according to the exhibition’s curator, Deborah Willis, University Professor and chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging. “This exhibit questions the relationship between beauty and art by examining the representation of beauty and different attitudes about class, gender, and aesthetics,” said Willis.

The exhibition was inspired by the book of the same name, and is written by Willis and published by W.W. Norton & Company (October 2009). The exhibition will travel to other venues, including Williams College Museum of Art, Newark Museum, and USC’s Fisher Museum of Art in Los Angeles.

Posing Beauty is divided into three thematic sections. The first theme, Constructing a Pose, considers the interplay between the historical and the contemporary, between self-representation and imposed representation, and the relationship between subject and photographer. The second theme, Body and Image, questions the ways in which our contemporary understanding of beauty has been constructed and framed through the body. The last section, Modeling Beauty and Beauty Contests, invites a deeper reading of beauty, its impact on mass culture and individuals and how the display of beauty affects the ways in which we see and interpret the world and ourselves.

Artists in the exhibition include: Eve Arnold, Anthony Barboza, Sheila Pree Bright, Renee Cox, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Lee Friedlander, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Alex Harsley, Jessica Ingram, Lauren Kelley, Russell Lee, Builder Levy, Elaine Mayes, Jeffrey Scales, Jamel Shabazz, Stephen Shames, Mickaline Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Carla Williams, Garry Winogrand and Ernest Withers, among others.

The exhibition will be on view in the Gulf + Western Gallery and in the 8th floor gallery of the Tisch School of the Arts Department of Photography & Imaging, located at 721 Broadway (at Waverly Place). Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. This exhibition is open to the public and admission is free. Photo ID is required when entering the building. For further information, on the exhibition or any of its accompanying events, visit
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