Henri Cartier-Bresson. Valencia, Spain. 1933. Gelatin silver print, printed 1930s; 9 1⁄4 × 11 5/8″ (23.5 × 29.5 cm). Gift of James Thrall Soby. © 2016 Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos, courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris

Gesture and Pose: Twentieth-Century Photographs from the Collection

January 13–April 5, 1994 The Museum of Modern Art

An exhibition surveying photography’s ability to capture the expressive attitudes of the human body, Gesture and Pose: Twentieth-Century Photographs from the Collection is part of an ongoing series of small exhibitions exploring the richness of the Museum’s collection.

“Like the expressions of the face,” curator Peter Galassi writes, “the attitudes of the body are full of meaning. Some of our gestures and poses are contrived for an audience (or a photographer); some are involuntary. In both cases our bodies send messages we might prefer to disguise, as well as those we intend to project: messages about who we think we are, or how we feel, or what we mean.”

Gesture and Pose includes some sixty works by such major photographers as Diane Arbus, Roy De Carava, Dorothea Lange, Irving Penn, August Sander, and Shomei Tomatsu, as well as by less well-known figures, including Richard Kalvar, Masatoshi Naitoh, and Chandler Weston, among others. Landmark works, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Valencia (1933) and Paul Strand’s The Family, Luzzara, Italy (1953), are presented along with less familiar photographs, such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s Rene d’Harnoncourt (1930s) and Steven Milanowski’s Tow Truck Driver at Scene of Fatal Accident (1982). Opening with a range of poses adopted explicitly for the camera, the exhibition proceeds to explore in turn such attitudes as introspection, repose, confrontation, affection, and such intense emotions as anguish, ecstasy, and surprise.

Organized by Peter Galassi, chief curator, Department of Photography.

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