Portraying a Nation
August 25, 2010 — September 11, 2011
American Portrait Photography, 1850-2010
Affordably priced, easy to produce, and available to virtually everyone, portrait photography ranks among the most democratic of art forms. Since the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, Americans of all economic and ethnic backgrounds have used photography to record their images for family, friends, the community, and the nation. In so doing, they have created a vast portrait array that together reveals the ever-changing face of America itself.
This exhibition, drawn from the Chrysler’s extensive photography collection, presents more than 100 portraits by American photographers. Some of the photographers’ names are famous and their images well-known—Mathew Brady, Irving Penn, Gordon Parks, Bob Lerner, Ernest Withers, Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Mapplethorpe, Sal Lopes, Chuck Close—but a key to this exhibition is all the frames taken by ordinary people that depict ordinary events. Photography offers the chance to reveal the extraordinary in the day-to-day, and here is the art form at its most rewarding.