With the advent of mass-produced and universally accessible platforms — magazines, television, the internet, and social media — our visual lexicon has become saturated with photographs that intrinsically tie persona to image. Ubiquity and success have become cognate, as solidifying a visual brand propels fame within the cult of celebrity. The works on view — icons of the 20th and 21st centuries — feature individuals whose names have become synonymous with images of their faces and bodies, from supermodels and actresses to musicians and visual artists. Excelling in the art of posing for a portrait — performing in front of and for the camera with a special awareness of how they position themselves, figuratively and literally — they enact a delicate balance between empowerment and objectification.
Reflecting the times in which they were made, these photographs, many created for fashion spreads or editorial promotions, are the result of exceptional collaboration between subject and photographer — or, in the case of self-portraits, the distinctive prowess in how one’s own face and body are perceived. Together over time, subject and photographer craft an image in the public eye that must be relentlessly reinvented for continued relevancy and evolving aspirations, enshrining standards for style, beauty, and glamour generation after generation.