History of Art Majors Society 2016 Slater Bradley

This Exhibition Has Ended

April 16, 2016
July 24, 2016
In the wing gallery

15 Minutes: Exposing Dimensions of Fame opens with Meiji-era photographs and nineteenth-century cartes de visite to explore the way that photographs can distill and preserve identity and serve as placeholders for people, places, eras, and cultures. The medium of photography functions as a substitute for memories, experiences, and individuals, allowing viewers to experience closeness to something otherwise unfamiliar.

Pairing nineteenth-century daguerreotypes with monumental staged self-portraits and images of celebrities helps address the notion, subject, and audience of fame by expanding the construction of celebrity beyond the modern era. By placing Bert Stern’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe in context with photographs of “everyday” people, like Thomas Struth’s image of the Okutsu family, 15 Minutes addresses both the construction of celebrity in the public sphere and the preservation of memory in the familial circle.

The exhibition also investigates a modern network of cultural connections. There are links between individuals within the same social circle and links that span generations, proving an enduring impact within society. The concept of celebrity renews itself with each generation, retaining some aspects of the past while influencing the new. Both Eileen Cowin and Slater Bradley respond to the legacy of director Alfred Hitchcock, who himself drew inspiration from surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Bert Stern photographed Marilyn Monroe in 1962, and then re-created the same images forty-six years later with actress Lindsay Lohan. 15 Minutes highlights these connections and underscores the cyclical and enduring nature of fame.

The final section of portraits and self-portraits brings 15 Minutes full circle by highlighting how photographers construct and manipulate their identities and those of their subjects. These images push the limits of the medium, both conceptually and physically, to underscore the dependence of constructed images and personae on the photographic medium, to further emphasize the interweaving of fame, celebrity, and photography. 

This exhibition was curated by undergraduate members of Cornell’s History of Art Majors’ Society with oversight by Kari O’Mara, Mellon Coordinator of Student Engagement at the Johnson Museum, and funded in part by a generous gift from Betsey and Alan Harris and grants from the Cornell Council for the Arts and the Student Activities Funding Commission.

2015–16 History of Art Majors' Society Exhibition Team

Lara Abouhamad
Cecilia Cascella
Wylie Rechler, vice president
Oscar Rieveling, treasurer
Katya Savelieva, president
Cleo Siderides
Samantha Siegler
Yuanyuan Tang, secretary
Anamaria Toledo
Eunice Yu