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Close to Home: Photographers and Their Families

February 4, 2011 – July 24, 2011

Image for Close to Home: Photographers and Their Families

Virginia Beahan, Christina and Gram on Thanksgiving, New Hampshire, 2004, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Haluk and Elisa Soykan © Virginia Beahan

In the 1980s, Larry Sultan and Tina Barney reinvigorated portraiture by turning their lenses on their own families to document their personal histories. These images record intimate moments these artists have elected to share and offer a glimpse into the private world most choose to reserve behind closed doors. The familiarity of these photographs belies a more elaborate process behind the lens. Having a parent, spouse, or sibling who is a photographer means living with the constant presence of the camera. These subjects are accustomed to an observer who is also an inseparable part of their daily lives.

Close to Home presents photographs made during the past three decades by both established and emerging artists. It features thirty-two color and black-and-white photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's permanent collection by nine contemporary photographers: Tina Barney, Virginia Beahan, Christopher Dawson, Muriel Hasbun, Martina Lopez, Elaine O’Neil, Larry Sultan, Margaret Strickland, and Carrie Will. The exhibition includes many new acquisitions, which will be on view at the museum for the first time. Toby Jurovics, formerly the museum's curator of photography, selected the photographs in the installation.

In the News
Washington City Paper, April 8, 2011, "'Close to Home: Photographers and Their Families' at Smithsonian American Art Museum" by Louis Jacobson
Slate, February 9, 2011, "Don't Look for Smiles: When the camera is trained on an artist's own family, expect a struggle" by Sarah Boxer
Smithsonian magazine, February 8, 2011, Around the Mall, "Family Pictures: Close to Home @ Smithsonian American Art Museum" by Jeff Campagna
The Washington Post, February 4, 2011, "'Close to Home: Photographers and Their Families' at Smithsonian American Art Museum" by Mark Jenkins

The Bernie Stadiem Endowment Fund provided support for the exhibition.

Free Public Programs
Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 6 p.m.; gallery talk with Frank Goodyear, associate curator of photographs at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery