Patrick Faigenbaum

Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris

Since 1984 Patrick Faigenbaum has been photographing aristocratic Italian families in their homes. The images reveal an attention to detail at the levels of both conception and execution—an obsession imposed, perhaps, at the expense of the models’ patience. These are stylized portraits, in which static poses, and gazes fixed directly at the camera evoke centuries-old genealogies—the permanence of names that can be traced through the history of a country or a region.

In the series shown here, entitled “Naples,” 1990-91, all of the images take the same square format, and wooden frames set them slightly off from the wall. Faigenbaum uses a silver bromide process that produces a distinctive mat quality. No reflection, sparkle, or gloss inflects the grainy, eclipse-toned surfaces of these photographs. Their dull, muted density—literally palpable to the eye—seems the very register of a kind

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