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.
Andrzej Steinbach Untitled from the series Gesellschaft beginnt mit drei 2017
We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.
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).
MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.
If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [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].