Below you will find a sample review by a student. The student received an A- for the exhibition review grade.
The review is a short paper therefore avoid using long quotes from wall texts in the exhibition or brochures, and outside sources (which you must cite). Look carefully and use your own words to communicate what you find compelling or weak about the exhibition. Provide descriptive details to give your reader an ‘insider’s’ view of the exhibition.
Sample Exhibition Review
For the exhibition review project, I went to the International Center of Photography and saw the Harper’s Bazaar: A Decade of Style exhibit. I decided to see this exhibit because I love fashion. I actually felt like a kid in a candy store. It is something I want to pursue in the future and I am really interested and I thought it would cool to see fashion in another form and perspective. When I first walked into the exhibit I was greeted by a huge sign the said “HARPER’S BAZAAR”…and it gave a brief background on the magazine, its editor and a few of the photographers that have contributed to the magazine over the years. Some of those photographers are Karl Lagerfeld, whom is the mind behind Chanel and Fendi, Peter Lindbergh, Jean-Paul Goude, David Bailey, William Klein, Patrick Demarchelier, Sølve Sundsbø, Tim Walker, Mario Sorrenti, Hiro, and Melvin Sokolsky. Many of the photos also included some designers and celebrities as well including Marc Jacobs and Lady Gaga, my favorites.
Going to the exhibit I got to look at the pictures differently. Instead of looking at them as if just flicking through a magazine, I actually paid attention to detail, the way the photo was taken, and what might be the meaning behind them. For instance in one particular photo by Nan Goldin, Marc Jacobs at the Plaza Hotel NYC, Sept 2010, when looking at the photo you feel a sense of emotion in Marc’s facial expression. The camera is focused on him sitting in a chair in his towel, with dim lighting. He looks as if he’s in deep thought and the background helps play into mood of the picture and the room. You also get a sense of personality from the picture and you can feel what he feels through the picture. I think that’s why this picture stuck out to me so much because looking at it; it just attracts you and draws you in. Another photograph that gave me that effect as well was Diane, May 2011, by Chuck Close, which was a close up picture of fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s face and you can see every bit of emotion in her face because you can see everything in her face like the lines that form to make up an expression. I thought this picture was interesting because since it was a close up, they’re usually in black & white but this one was in color which made it feel real and felt like you were looking at the person and not just a picture of portrait. The object of the show was to show fashion through photographs and how to incorporate the two to come out with something wonderful. I all around enjoyed the exhibit; it was interesting and did a good job of showing incorporating fashion and photography, I just wish that the exhibit was bigger and had more to show. The International Center of Photography Museum isn’t really a big place and they had two other exhibits in the building so they had to share the space.
I also learned things that I didn’t know; I had no idea that Karl Lagerfeld was a photographer. I liked how the pictures were displayed around the room, all of the walls were covered with pictures, the two longest walls had big portrait type pictures on them and the smaller walls had pages from the actual magazine on them, and then at the corners of the room and in the middle of the floors there were glass cases that held magazines some open to certain pages and some showing just the covers. The format of the room added to the exhibit, it gave it some movement since the pictures can’t move. All of the photographs were different sizes which also added to the different shapes and styles that were portrayed in the photographs. The room also had different colors on the walls that contrasted with the colors in the photographs such as Stephanie Seymour, Feb 2002, by Patrick Demarchelier, an Andy Warhol style photo, yellow background, prominent red lips and blue eye shadow with a blue tinted shadow outlined the figure. The colors are so bright that they pop out at you as soon as you see it, that you couldn’t miss the photo at all. I really liked how this exhibit and the photographers used color, they didn’t use boring and ordinary colors, they used colors that would get you thinking and wondering why they did what they did and keep you interested.
I also think that the way the museum placed the pictures was a way to attract the visitors. Next to the big sign that gave a brief biography of the magazine was a photograph by Terry Richardson, Lady Gaga, May 2011. This photograph would attract a lot of people that walked into the exhibit because she is one of the most popular celebrities of today and she is known for her eccentric fashion sense. And this photograph didn’t disappoint, the background is all black and so is her outfit and her sky high shoes and eye make-up and her hair is a pale pink and her face has a spotlight on it, which is the highlight of the photo because it’s the first thing you see looking at it. I really like this photograph because it’s Lady Gaga and I like that the photographer used her hair and her face as the focal point of the photo; I like how they used all black as the contrast and dark make-up it gives the photograph a dramatic feel. And the pose she is giving and her shoes gives the photograph some structure because her body is at different levels, her shoes are high but one foot is kind of lifted and so is the pant leg of the shoe to give it some more height.
Some other photographs that caught my attention and I thought were interesting were by Jean-Paul Goude [Linda Evanglista, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Goude, Stephan Gan] Dec, 2003. I love the whole concept of this picture it’s full of people in which looks like a ballroom, people on steps and then there’s Linda and Karl as the focal point of the picture right in the middle of the floor and huge pieces of confetti falling from the ceiling. It looks like a fun picture, like there was a party going on. The gleam of the confetti is what first catches your eye in the picture because the light in the room bounces right off of it. It’s also interesting because Karl is dressed in all black as usual and Linda in dressed in all white with a head piece on; there outfits don’t fit the setting of background, but it makes for a great picture. The other photos are by Tim Walker Tim Burton’s Tricks & Treats which was a play on the director Tim Burton’s movie characters. They included Edward Scissor Hands, Nightmare before Christmas, BeatleJuice (my favorite Tim Burton film) and others. The models in the photos were dressed as the character from the movie but they had a twist to them. The outfits were more up to date then the movie, but they put a great spin on recreating the characters looks. This particular group of photos made me really excited because as soon as I saw them I knew what they were supposed to be. I would recommend this exhibit to anyone who loves fashion, it allows you to see it from a different perspective and how iconic pictures can be just by how it is put together and staged.
Going to this exhibit and looking at the photos showed me how much photography has changed, from when you could only take one photo and that be the only copy or not being able to catch movements in the photos or even getting the correct color or complete figure in the photo. The exhibit space has also showed me how things have changed how photographers would have to display their work at their own homes. This exhibition contributed to my knowledge of the history of photography by showing how photography in the past has evolved and contributed to what we can do today. It showed how you can tell stories through photos and clothing and how a pose or facial expression could add to a photo and give a meaning and allows you to interpret things how you see them.