Last year, the Art Institute of Chicago opened a photography exhibition entitled The Three Graces. The exhibition centered around 500 vintage snapshots, found and collected by Peter J. Cohen, that featured trios of women captured in countless milieus. The title of the exhibition comes from the classical iconography of three women personifying the grace, charm, and beauty of nature and humanity.
|Photographer unknown, Untitled (Minnie O., Annie A, & my self in Hay Rack a[?] Robh Patersons), 1916|
What is fascinating about this exhibition is that every photograph is a form of communication, meant to construct the stories and personal identities of its subjects. Not unlike fashion photography of the 20th century and wedding photography today, these snapshots provide a historical record of the intense voyeuristic relationship we have to the world around us. But they also show a keene ability to let each subjects’ personality shine through, which is something that is sometimes missing from modern photography.
|Photographer unknown, Untitled, c. 1920/29|
So today, taking a hiatus from printed matter, we are dedicating our blog to photography of women – photography that speaks to us, that seeks to give voice to its subjects, and that constructs images that are both compelling stories and beautiful compositions.