I: The Shape of Things: Robert B. Menschel

Through this photography collection located on the second floor of the museum, Mr. Menschel dives deep into the history of photography throughout a timeline from the very beginnings of photography to the early 21st century. 504 photographs were submitted over the past 40 years, including his own personal collections. At the beginning of the exhibit, a quote by Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri is seen.

"Photography is less and less a cognitive process, in the traditional sense of the term, or an affirmative one, offering answers, but rather a language for asking questions about the world."— Luigi Ghirri, 1989

Some of my personal favorites are shown below:

Lee Friedlander

Rockland County, New York

"Jesus," 1980

William Wegman

“Man Ray” Portfolio: 1976-1982

These are various portraits of a dog he purchased in 1970. He named him Man Ray.


John Coplans

“Self Portrait (Back With Arms Above)”

1984

A portrait in which his head is shown to be invisible, which at the time was quite unordinary. Both of his hands are also shown in a fist. In this piece, he explores the aging body in a very playful and yet grotesque manner.


Arthur “Weegee” Fellig

“The Gay Deceivers”

Circa 1939

This man and 4 others were arrested for dressing up as girls. “Drags” so to speak. You could find this picture in his 1945 book “Naked City."

II: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency: Nan Goldin

Also located on the second floor of the museum, Nan Goldin’s project is by far one of the most powerful exhibits in the entire museum and even the world. This exhibit chronicles her abusive relationship, her self-identity, and the way of the junkie. Many images are uncensored and very sexually explicit, giving the visitor and/or lover of art much to evaluate and take in. Some may find it horrible, some may find it fascinating. However, this collection has changed many lives and helps us see the world through the eyes of a fantastic photographer who’s on the darker side of reality.

Here are some of her works on the next page:

“The Hug”

Nan Goldin

1980, New York City

This particular photograph was very popular during it’s time. What appears to be a simple hug goes much deeper than that. Her lover seems to be holding her very tightly across her hips. His arm musculature asserts his dominance over Nan and she is forced to give in to his aggressive affection. Both faces are hidden for much more dramatic effect.

“Nan One Month After Being Battered”

1984

This is one of the more shocking photos of the exhibit. Goldin takes a self-portrait of her scars and severe black eye caused by her abusive lover. Considering the damage done even after one month has passed, it goes to show how powerful this portrait really is. Her left eye was the most damaged, with her iris still discolored and a black eye that has yet to heal in the slightest bit. Her face is straight, very good for portraying the pain caused by her husband instead of a usual sad face.

“Self Portrait in Blue Bathroom”

London, 1980

This self-portrait is also very popular among the photos of the collection. She is seen with little to no clothes and her image is located in the bottom right-hand corner of the mirror. The depth of the image seems to evoke some sort of soul-searching, along with the dark background seen in the mirror. The light reflecting off her face also shows signs of hope and finding herself.