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A century of photos of the human body goes on display

The «Century of the Human Body» is being celebrated by an international exhibition of photographs at the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne. It covers a wide range of themes, including the erotic, but above all it presents photography as art.

This content was published on April 26, 2000 - 08:33

The «Century of the Human Body» is being celebrated by an international exhibition of photographs at the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne. It covers a wide range of themes, including the erotic, but above all it presents photography as art.

This is the second of a three-part exhibition spread out over the whole year. Museum director William Ewing says for the past 100 years, the body has been of fundamental interest to photographers, whose diverse approaches are evidence of artistic creativity and technical ingenuity.

Many of the earlier photographs in the exhibition are portraits of women in dreamlike poses, looking as though they were captured on canvas rather than by the camera. «Start-of-the-century photographers lacked confidence in the medium,» says Ewing, «and were desperate to prove it was highly expressive and artistic by showing it could do the same things as painting.

«Trapped in this irony, they wanted to prove their medium was on equal footing with painting and sculpture. The highest praise was to tell a photographer that his or her work was like a painting. Today, more and more photographers are entering into the mainstream of contemporary art.»

More than 350 photographers are featured in the exhibition, which covers the many genres of photography including photojournalism, sport, dance, advertising, science and medicine.

William Ewing and his fellow-curators had considered devoting a special section to pornography: «But what constitutes pornography is so subjective that we decided to include the erotic photographs as an element throughout the exhibition and let people decided for themselves.»

The second stage of the «Century of the Body» exhibition is entitled «The Triumph of Form» and ends on June 12.

By Richard Dawson







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