Public Dress

On View
June 20–October 8, 2012

Many 20th-century photographers have relied on clothing to help craft a social narrative, and this selection of photographs from the MFAH collection presents a sampling of themes that highlight the relationship between photography and everyday dress.

The photographs of Ishimoto Yasuhiro and Zig Jackson emphasize a decisive moment for both the photographer and the subject, whether in making a picture or selecting what to wear. Andrew Burmeister and Maripol photographed casual scenes with high fashion in mind, resulting in a gritty, relaxed style that is seen today in social media and fashion blogs. Robert Frank, Dan Wiener and Geoff Winningham inspected the more expressive qualities of their subjects’ choices of attire, even of those in uniform.

Personal style can also be seen as an act of rebellion, such as the quiet confrontation of the Mohawk haircuts in a photograph by Joel Sternfeld or the contained aggression of a pair of boots seen in another by Chris Killip. The photographs by Will van Overbeek, Janice Rubin and Carl Clark explore how people groom themselves for a special occasion.

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