In this exhibition, curated by Professor Wendy Steiner, photographs by Hungarian-born photographer Sylvia Plachy capture the many ways humans impose and reflect style and styles in the world around us.
"There is nothing mechanical," writes Steiner, "about the reproduction revealed in Sylvia Plachy's remarkable photographs. At the entrance [of the exhibition], with a kiss of 'Hat Passion,' life and art begin their mutual procreation. Barbie stylizes women's legs, as a woman styles her legs to Barbie's. A tourist in Venice gazes at a cathedral, her hair pinned up in a cupola. Is that where architects first got the idea? What better reason could there be for trekking to Stonehenge than to see your backpack loom up in front of you, or for visiting the Louvre than to become a baroque painting? Reproduced in quadruplicate, dolls become babies and babies become dolls. These burgeoning echoes and correspondences and births are Plachy's photographic celebration of art in life, repros in a creativity that has no end."
A staff photographer for The Village Voice for many years, Plachy's work has appeared in Newsweek, Artforum, Vogue, New York Times Magazine, Granta, The Washington Post Magazine, Stern, Grand Street, Wired, Doubletake, and Tatler, among others. Her first book, Unguided Tour, won the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Best Publication of 1990. She also collaborated with journalist James Ridgeway on the 1996 book Red Light: Inside The Sex Industry. Her work is in many private collections and in those of George Eastman House, Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, New York's MoMA, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Bibliotheque nationale de France. She has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and other venues worldwide. Important group exhibitions have included A History of Women Photograhers, Mirrors and Windows, Mexico Through Foreign Eyes, Made in Hungary: Those Who Went Away and Those Who Stayed, and Hope. Her latest book, Signs and Relics, was published in February 2000. Plachy also is one of the photograhers for the national documentary project Indivisible: Stories of American Community.
The Penn Humanities Forum is proud to collaborate with the Arthur Ross Gallery in exhibiting this brilliant photography as part of the Forum's year-long exploration of the notion of Style.
Wendy Steiner is Director of the Penn Humanities Forum and Richard L. Fisher Professor of English. Cosponsored by the Arthur Ross Gallery, with an additional gift from George Gillespi