The Radical Eye Exhibit

The Tate Modern’s exhibition, The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from Sir Elton John was one of the best i’ve ever seen. The exhibit featured photographic works from Man Ray, Dorthea Lange, and Edward Steichen among many others. I was most captivated by Edward Steichen’s “Gloria Swanson”, pictured below.

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Upon first glance of this photo I was immediately attracted by the lace that covered the portrait of Gloria Swanson. For me, this lace evoked such a 1920’s feel, which perfectly captured the era in which the photo was taken. I questioned many things. Was the lace deliberate? Why lace? Why veil her with the lace? Why use lace? Such a provocative photo deserves to be better understood. I further researched the subject herself, Gloria Swanson, a rather scandalous american film star famous for her roles in the silent film era as both an actress and icon.

I’ve concluded that the lace was therefore used to showcase the secretiveness and illusiveness that accompanied being a silent film star in the 20’s. The photo was both captivating and curious and I continue to want to know more.

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