Close-up: Identity and the Photographic Portrait
Tate Modern: Display
25 October 201427 September 2015
Free
  • Paz Errazuriz Adam’s Apple 1983
    Paz Errazuriz
    Adam’s Apple 1983
    Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
    Image: 295 x 459 mm

Taken in the street or in other informal settings, these portraits by Lisette Model and Paz Errázuriz capture a range of striking individuals in distinctive social environments.

Lisette Model’s photographs ‘record a relentless probing and searching into realities among people, their foibles, senselessness, sufferings, and on occasion, their greatness’, wrote the photographer Edward Steichen. ‘The resulting pictures are often camera equivalents of bitter tongue-lashings. She strikes swift, hard and sharp, then comes to a dead stop, for her work is devoid of all extraneous devices or exaggerations.’ 

Carefully selected by Model for a portfolio spanning her career, the photographs shown here include some of her best-known images from the 1930s and 1940s. Model’s close-up views of people on the streets of Paris, New Yorkand the French Riviera were often taken without the subjects’ awareness or permission, while the old or destitute people that she captured in New York Cityseem not to care about the presence of the photographer.

By contrast, Paz Errázuriz forms strong relationships with her subjects over an extended period of time. She often explores groups on the margins of society, and her series Adam’s Apple portrays the transvestite community in Santiago, Chile, in the early 1980s. The sitters are presented going about their everyday lives, in their homes, in their neighbourhood, and with friends and family. Taken at the height of General Pinochet’s military dictatorship, the images were not published until 1990, when they appeared as a book through the experimental Chilean publisher ZONA. However, on the day it was released, the book was rejected by every bookshop in Santiago and only a single copy was sold.

Lisette Model (1906–1983) was born in Vienna. She lived and worked in Paris and New York.

Paz Errázuriz was born in 1944 in Santiago, Chile, where she lives and works.

Curated by Shoair Mavlian