While the tradition of exploring the human body in both painting and photography leans strongly toward the fully depicted nude, photography has outmaneuvered painting when it comes to the depiction of the body's various parts. Anatomical studies that would veer toward abstraction or surrealism in painting are doubly charged in the medium of photography, which easily combines the immediacy of real flesh with the often surreal vision imposed by the photographer.
Thus, the images in this exhibition are heavily invested in imaginative deconstructions of human form, from the many close-ups of fingers, hands, feet, and legs, to the textural and formal landscapes of the torso. At the same time, the sheer eroticism of the female nude becomes a metaphoric playground under the lenses of classic and latter-day surrealists such as Marcel Marien, Krzysztof Pruszkowski and Charlie Schreiner, all of whom will either adorn their nude models with everyday objects or celebrate physical attributes with multiple exposures.
Indeed, there's a fair amount of fetishistic energy to be perceived in images of long female limbs in lacy lingerie or sprawled alongside the curving femininity of a cello--the sort of depictions that invite feminist interpretation of the voyeuristic "male gaze" as the activating modality of modern photography and film. Many of these images are certainly provocative examples of that dialectic, while others seem more purely expressive of the human form for form's sake.
Strong, evocative exposures of hands and feet celebrate the beauty and anatomical complexity of the extremities, which become more vivid for us in photographic close-ups that remove them from their usual context and confront us with the wonder of human anatomy and its often surprising beauty. The care and control that these varied photographers bring to their studies of the body and its parts is often on par with the masters of realistic anatomical depictions in other media--DaVinci, Michelangelo, Escher--and connect this mode of photography with the classical tradition, even though the images in this exhibition are, for the most part, dazzling examples of modernism.