Adroitly navigating the disciplines of editorial photography and fine-art work, Alec Soth has emerged as a leading American artist. He is a member of the famed Magnum Photos group, and has shown his work in galleries and museums in the United States and in Europe.
Born and based in Minneapolis and educated in New York, Soth first attracted critical notice with his series Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004). Since then, he has published NIAGARA (2006), Fashion Magazine (2007), and Dog Days, Bogotá (2007). Unlike many contemporary photographers, Soth works with a large-format 8 x 10-inch camera, which, given the time involved in setting up for a photograph, creates an intense relationship between the artist and subject. Soth sees this as the crux of his work.
A selection of Alec Soth’s photographs are on display at the National Portrait Gallery as part of “Portraiture Now: Feature Photography.” This exhibition highlights six photographers who, by working on assignment for publications such as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine, bring their distinctive “take” on contemporary portraiture to a broad audience. The exhibition closes on September 27, 2009.
For “Portraiture Now: Feature Photography” we chose a selection of Soth’s portraits of women, drawn from past editorial work and fine arts projects, including three portraits from Fashion Magazine, which explored the world of Paris couture and countered those images with subjects from his Minnesota home. As Soth notes, “I’m trying to come to terms with how I honestly see and depict women. Are my pictures romanticized? Sexualized? Why do I see women in this way? For me, photography is as much about the way I respond to the subject as it is about the subject itself.”
Soth recently spoke at the National Portrait Gallery, where he discussed his work in “Portraiture Now: Feature Photography.”
Listen to Alec Soth's gallery talk (38:37)
See other photographers featured in “Portraiture Now: Feature Photography.” On Saturday, May 2, at 1:00 p.m., Steve Pyke will visit the Portrait Gallery and discuss his work. Pyke first won notice for his distinctive close-up style in the 1980s with editorial work for magazines such as Britain’s “style bible,” The Face. And on Saturday, July 11, at 1:30 p.m., attend a talk by a Martin Schoeller, whose photographs have appeared in many different magazines, including New Yorker, Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ), Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone.