Constructivist Portrait

Constructivist Portrait


Ellen Carey

(American, b. 1952)

Gelatin silver print, toned and painted

Overall: 45.7 x 51.5 cm (18 x 20 1/4 in.); Mounted: 50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.)

Gift of Dorothy Handelman 2003.309



During the past two decades, Carey has consistently expanded the expressive and formal expectations of photography beyond its ability to mimic reality, relying on color and abstraction to carry her symbolism. In this early self-portrait, she added a collaged eye to the negative, which was then rephotographed, printed in high contrast, and painted with vivid hues. She relied on optical distortion to obscure and flatten the representational image, which has a psychedelic, geometrical quality that seems inspired by Piet Mondrian’s colors and forms and Man Ray’s Surrealist juxtapositions.

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