A recently opened exhibition of over 100 photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), Face to Face: Portraits of Artists, introduces visitors to the flesh-and-blood creatives behind oil-on-canvas works hung in nearby galleries. “These wonderful portraits feel a little bit like family photos that we’re excited to share with you,” curator Peter Barberie notes in the show’s introductory wall text.
The show begins with a classic studio portrait of 19th century French caricaturist Honoré Daumier and ends with contemporary photographer Alice O’Malley’s semi-nude depiction of Manhattan drag queen, Mistress Formika. Clearly, the formality of the photographic portrait has changed over the years. The fascination with this mode of image-making has not.