The photographs in The Family exhibition identified a rich vein of material in the subject of family. Since ancient times, the family portrait has been the artist’s stock-in-trade, whether it is an Egyptian frieze depicting a great Pharaoh and his progeny, or a Renaissance icon of the Holy Family. From Fouquet to Romney, from Velázquez to the creators of the reality TV program, The Osbournes, the family has captured the imagination of those who have contributed in important ways to the imagery of their time.
The families depicted in this exhibition come from Mali and California, India and Israel, Italy and Rhode Island. For Tierney Gearon, Sally Mann and Richard Billingham, the subjects are the photographers’ own families, which is not the case for Thomas Struth, Seydou Keita and Patrick Faigenbaum. Nan Goldin’s “family” is not defined by the DNA structure of its members, but these friends and lovers function as her family unit nonetheless. What this group of photographs has in common is a self-conscious interest in the construction of the idea of family through the photographic image.
The exhibition was curated by Barnaby Drabble. The show’s accompanying catalog includes a foreword by Alannah Weston.