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Photography and the Self:
The Legacy of F. Holland Day

Dec 20, 2006–Mar 4, 2007

Installation view of Photography and the Self: The Legacy of F. Holland Day (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, December 20, 2006–March 4, 2007). Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins

Installation view of Photography and the Self: The Legacy of F. Holland Day (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, December 20, 2006–March 4, 2007). Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins

Soon after the dawn of photography in the nineteenth century, artists working with a camera began to photograph themselves. By the 1960s, they were using the medium extensively to explore the use of their own bodies as the raw material of their art. This exhibition includes prints from the Whitney’s collection that reflect various types of self-portrayal from the 1960s to the present, and one work that foreshadows them all – F. Holland Day’s The Seven Words, 1898. Day’s bold depiction of himself as Christ provides a reminder of an aspect of the history of photography in the United States that was obscured by the long shadow of Modernism. Artists such as Charles Ray, Francesca Woodman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Lyle Ashton Harris, and others have continued this tradition while forging new territory by using their own bodies as an integral part of their art.