April 16, 2024
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Ellen Graham: Unscripted – A Photographic Legacy at the Norton Museum

Ellen Graham
Photo Courtesy: Ellen Graham/Sharon Tate, Beverly Hills, CA, 1968 © Ellen Graham

The Norton Museum of Art is set to host the exhibition “Ellen Graham: Unscripted,” from March 2 to June 16, 2024. This exhibition promises to take visitors on a profound journey through the extensive six-decade career of celebrated photographer Ellen Graham, known for her insightful portraiture and contributions to major U.S. publications like Harper’s Bazaar, People, W Magazine, Time, and Newsweek. Graham’s collaboration with these magazines has significantly impacted the photographic world, aligning with the Norton Museum of Art’s mission to offer enriching cultural experiences.

“Ellen Graham: Unscripted” aims to delve into the depths of Graham’s artistic endeavors, presenting over 400 of her portraits that capture the essence and authenticity of each subject. The exhibition features a broad spectrum of iconic figures, including Sharon Tate, Marissa Berenson, Cher, David Bowie, Arthur Ashe, and Anthony Hopkins, showcasing Graham’s unparalleled ability to portray the genuine selves of her subjects.

Beyond the glitz of celebrity portraits, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the everyday through Graham’s street photography, spanning cities from New York to Beverly Hills. These images provide a rich narrative of unseen moments, infusing the exhibition with a sense of diversity and complexity.

Ellen Graham
Photo Courtesy: Ellen Graham/Gloria Swanson, Hollywood, CA, 1974 © Ellen Graham

“This exhibition and the accompanying catalogue provide a contemporary reading of Graham’s photographs through the lens of ‘the unscripted,’ a concept that describes both her photographic style and process, in addition to the external forces that helped shape her career. Within the broader genre of portraiture, Graham’s photographs feature qualities that stretch beyond many of her contemporaries: a sense of immediacy, moments of intimacy and humor, and the remarkable ability to disarm her subjects,” said Lauren Richman, Ph.D., the Norton’s William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography.

The exhibition also features a curated selection of Graham’s images from 2021, alongside pieces from the Ellen Graham Archive, including photographs and photographic ephemera. This collection offers a comprehensive look at Graham’s evolution as a photographer and her significant contributions to the art form.

Ghislain d’Humières, the Norton’s Kenneth C. Griffin Director and CEO, and Ellen Graham herself have expressed their enthusiasm for the exhibition’s potential to engage and inspire museum-goers, “The collection of photographs from Ellen Graham will engage and delight Museum visitors for years to come,” said Ghislain d’Humières, Kenneth C. Griffin Director and CEO of the Norton. Graham’s passion for photography and her support for the Norton Museum’s mission to promote photographic arts underscore the transformative power of photography in her life and the lives of others.

As “Ellen Graham: Unscripted” prepares to open its doors, it stands as a testament to Graham’s lasting legacy in the world of photography, offering an in-depth look at her journey through the lens of the unscripted. The significance of this exhibition extends beyond its immediate visual appeal, serving as an educational cornerstone for photographers, enthusiasts, and scholars alike. The Norton Museum not only celebrates Graham’s contributions to the art of photography but also fosters a community of learning and appreciation for the visual arts, ensuring that visitors leave with a greater understanding of the impact of photography on both personal and societal levels.

Published by: Nelly Chavez

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