September 23 – October 31, 2015
In an era where most images have been fashioned to fit an ideal of airbrushed, spray-tanned, artfully coiffed perfection, the almost effortless authenticity of the portraits in Tara Bogart’s A Modern Hair Study and The Locks still life is refreshingly unpretentious. She evidently agrees with early 20th-century American photographer Edward Weston, who valued “the stark beauty that a lens can so exactly render presented without the interference of artistic effect.”
Bogart is an artist whose passion for photography emerged early in life in her native Milwaukee. Inspired by an archival image of Felix Nadar’s Hair Study while visiting the National Library of France, she has created a series of intimate portraits of French and American women. Focusing solely on their backs and their hair, she forces the viewer “to contend with all of the peripheral things that make each woman unique.”
Distinguished both by their femininity and anonymity, the portraits in this series are characterized by images that are clearly youthful and contemporary – modern women displayed in an atypical setting. Our immediate attention is captured by variations in hairstyle, color, and embellishment, ranging from shockingly cherry red, blue, and orange hues of Nadya, Sinead, and Andee to the vivid body art of Candice’s mermaid, and the soulful declaration that rolls gracefully down Sinead’s spine. Even the more subtle styles of Devon and Jessie declare each woman’s personality and preferences, whether at odds or in line with prevailing trends.
Bogart states “In these intimate portraits I am a voyeur concentrating on a generation that is not mine. While certain ideals are often relevant to different generations, the ways in which women adorn and modify themselves often indicate the struggles of a young adult with their own ideology, loss, and individuality.” Whether it is the Locks still life or a Modern Hair Studies Portraits Bogart notes: “After photographing these women, I can imagine these struggles are timeless.” However, the distinctiveness of tattoos, piercings, eccentric colors, and freckles belies the reality that inextricably connects them. These decorations become a fleeting detour for the eye, secondary to the smooth roundness of the shoulder, the soft arch of the neck and delicate prominence of each feminine shoulder blade that links each of these images in a manner far more primal, substantial and enduring. If the “role of the artist is to observe the beauty that others miss and help them see it through their creative pursuits” (Gary Lanthrum), Bogart achieves a level of reflection that adroitly fulfills that brief. Framing her work with the simplicity of a blush colored background, she accentuates the sensuous womanliness of each photograph. Latin philosopher, Augustine of Hippo opined “Oh, beauty, ever ancient and ever new.” In this exhibition, Bogart provides us with a gentle reminder of the immutable nature of femininity, irrespective of era.
Tara Bogart was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has exhibited work at Hous Projects, New York, Aperture, New York Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, Center of the Arts at Virginia Tech, VA, The Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee, The Newspace Photo Center, Portland, OR, Institute of Art & Design, Grava Gallery, Katie Gingrass Gallery, H2O Gallery, Art and Soul Gallery, and The Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee. She has been reviewed by the New Yorker, CNN Worldwide Photos, Zoom Magazine, The British Journal of Photography, and The New Republic, and American Photography 29. Tara Bogart is in the private and public collections of The National Library of France, Paris, and the J Crew Corporate Collection to name a few.