The female form has been perhaps the most ubiquitously discussed concept of human anatomy. At the very least, it has provided the muse for many an artist and photographer, not to mention Scott Nichols Gallery’s latest exhibition.
The exhibition’s nearly 60 photographs of women ranging from circa 1870s to the present explore the myriad ways in which female, and male, photographers view women and how women choose to be seen. It includes the work of Ansel Adams, Kiichi Asano, Ruth Bernhard, Anne Brigman, Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Margo Davis, Monica Denevan, Mona Kuhn, Dorothea Lange, An-My Lê, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Linda McCartney, Annette Lemieux, Barbara Morgan, Hiroshi Osaka, Paul Strand, Brett Weston and Edward Weston, among others.
A complementary show in the smaller gallery features Dorothea Lange and the work of several of her contemporaries including Ansel Adams, represented by his documentation of women belonging to the group of 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry interned in camps during World War II.
The subject of women for a photo exhibition can be rife with stereotypes and predictable patterns. Here the tropes of women in the nude and in nature, as well as fashion photography are juxtaposed with humorous images such as Roger Minnick’s tourist at Inspiration Point, Yosemite, and Annette Lemieux’s spooky, sobering Apparition. Edward Weston’s Erica, Point Lobos is a less familiar representation of his work: his granddaughter on a beach the year before he stopped photographing. The women photographers of Group f/64 represented may be seen to replace the appropriation of certain of these tropes with ownership of an alternative way of “seeing and being seen.”