Opening reception: June 18, 5:30 - 7:30pm
32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor
New York, 6 June 2015 – Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present BACK, a group exhibition of photographs by Adou, Richard Benson, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Jim Goldberg, Emmet Gowin, Paul Graham, Hiro, Peter Hujar, Jocelyn Lee, Nicholas Nixon, Tod Papageorge, Susan Paulsen, Paolo Roversi, Lucas Samaras, Viviane Sassen, Fazal Sheikh, William Wegman, Henry Wessel, and Garry Winogrand, among others. Featuring a range of subjects – including babies, animals, and nudes – photographed solely from behind, the selected works both humorously and seriously explore the visual and psychological intrigue of images taken from this vantage point. The exhibition will be on view from June 18 through August 28, 2015, with an opening reception on Thursday, June 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
Traditionally, photographers have approached their subjects from frontal perspectives. When individuals turn their backs to the camera, however, conventional portraits can become investigations into the transformative power of anonymity. In seeking to decipher the identity and thoughts of a figure photographed from behind, the viewer can visually assume their place within the picture – joining baseball spectators in the crowd in Tod Papageorge’s Shea Stadium, New York, 1970, witnessing Senator John F. Kennedy's presidential nomination in Garry Winogrand's Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (JFK), 1960, or attending a traditional Chinese funeral ceremony in the Sichuan Province in Adou's Funeral, Women, 2006.
Many of the works on view capture stolen, solitary moments of meditation and introspection – even of the canine and avian variety. The lone figure in Richard Benson's Forillon Park, Gaspe, 2006 sits in deep contemplation, and as the suited man in Henry Wessel's San Francisco, 1973 considers the myriad implications of the vast expanse of ocean before him, so too does the behatted canine in William Wegman's Lee Street Pond, 1981. Alternatively, some pictures assume a more voyeuristic, cinematic feel, such as Lee Friedlander's New York City, 1966, in which the photographer's foreboding shadow appears, unbeknownst to his subject, on the back of her fur coat.
Other photographs explore varied interpretations of the sensuality and physicality of the human back. Nicholas Nixon's portrait of his son, Sam, Arles, 1997, celebrates the formal beauty and sculptural quality of the naked body, while the sinuous shape of the spine is accentuated in Hiro's Black Bathing Suits, Manzanillo, Mexico, 1985 and Viviane Sassen's Nest, 2010. Susan Paulsen's Katonah, 2014 offers a more intimate approach, allowing viewers to visually revel in the soft flesh of her endearing young subject.
Henry Wessel, San Francisco, 1973 © Henry Wessel
Harry Callahan, Eleanor, Chicago, 1949 © The Estate of Harry Callahan
Lucas Samaras, Auto-Polaroid, 12/24/70 © Lucas Samaras
Viviane Sassen, E's Jacket, 2005 © Viviane Sassen
Susan Paulsen, Katonah, 2014 © Susan Paulsen
Peter Hujar, Goose with Bent Neck, 1981 © Peter Hujar
One of the world's leading photography galleries, Pace/MacGill has been dedicated to advancing fine art photography for 30 years. Known for discovering artists, representing masters, and placing important collections and archives into major public institutions, Pace/MacGill has presented some 200 exhibitions and published numerous catalogues on modern and contemporary photography. Founded in 1983 by Peter MacGill, in collaboration with Arne Glimcher of Pace Gallery and Richard Solomon of Pace Editions, Pace/MacGill is located at 32 East 57th Street in New York City.