Face It: Norton Simon Museum displays the portrait

Although the Norton Simon Museum, located in Pasadena, is mostly known for its remarkable sculptures and impressionist art, its photography exhibit, Face It: The Photographic Portrait, is one that truly stands out. The exhibit opened on April 4 and will remain at the museum until August 11.

Compared to the other exhibits, this particular one is located in a much smaller room, yet it still holds a great collection of photos, 20 to be exact. At first, the photography seems a bit unusual, but after a few looks, each picture seems relatable in its own way. Portraiture is designed to make the viewer feel something much deeper than what is seen with the eye.

Most photos are black and white, but there are some color photos too. At first glance, the photos seem very modern, but in actuality, the photos range from the early 1930s to the ’90s.

The collection is comprised of photos from artists like Judy Dater, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Diane Arbus, Imogen Cunningham and Minor White, to name a few.

A black and white portrait of a young woman of Hispanic descent, taken by Bravo, is part of the collection. It is titled “Miss Juare” and seems to be a very recently-taken photo. The girl in the picture is standing still and looking right into the lense of the camera. She has a very serious, yet blank face which almost makes the viewer feel sadness and pain.

“Miss Juare” was actually shot in 1934. Although a picture can look very modern, it doesn’t mean that it is. This statement proves that photography is timeless. One can look at a photo and think it’s modern when in actuality, it was taken decades ago.

This seems to be a common aspect in the portraits at this exhibit. Many look new and recent, but tend not be.

Another photo, “George Livia,” was taken by artist Judy Dater in 1996. It is a black and white portrait of a man standing in between a curtain and holding a hat to his chest. His face is serious, but full of worry. This portrait gives off an intense vibe to its viewers. Again, the picture looks like it could have been taken one week ago, but that is not the case.

Photography can be considered a modern form of art. It doesn’t matter when or how a picture was taken, because in one way or another, photography is comforting and simple to relate to. This emitted aspect is what makes the photography exhibit at the Norton Simon so unique.

The museum is open to visitors on Mondays and Wednesday–Sunday from 12-6 p.m., but on Fridays from 12-9 p.m. Admission for adults is $10. Students and children under the age of 18 are admitted for free.