In a group portrait, the relationships and comparisons between individuals are weighty: Who stands and who sits? Why does one person smile, while another scowls? What does the subjects’ dress tell us about them? Steinbach’s series Gesellschaft beginnt mit drei (Society Begins with Three), which is titled after an essay by German sociologist Ulrich Bröckling, follows the basic format of a group portrait composed of three models, all of whom turn toward the camera (and the viewer) with a steady gaze. Yet in each picture, only one figure is depicted in full; the others have been cropped partially out of the frame. Looking at the series,, we begin to realize that the models have switched positions and clothing. By creating a sense of disorientation in this way, Steinbach’s images defy rigid interpretations and remind us that individuals are mutable and inconsistent, as are their relationships to others.
If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).
All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.
If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissio[email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].