Sunday, September 26, 2010

Changing Identities: Len Prince's Photographs of Jessie Mann

This image is a favorite of mine from the exhibition that closed today at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. This evening's Wrap Party for the exhibition, Changing Identities: The Len Prince Photographs of Jessie Mann, gave us all an opportunity to get up close to the prints and to the photographer who created them. This image, a close resemblance to the artist Andy Warhol - including the darkroom setting and Polaroid SX-70 camera around her neck - was hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg Friends of Photography. The event featured the photographer, Len Prince, in a very casual one-on-one discussion of his art, his model and muse, Jessie Mann (the daughter of photographer Sally Mann), and an enlightening Q & A with Prince about his techniques and working relationship with Jessie. It was all terribly interesting and a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the artist.

Here is the Museum of Fine Arts' description of the exhibition: "Len Prince is celebrated for glamorous portraits of Hollywood stars and sleek advertisements for Cartier and Estée Lauder. In 2001 he met a self-possessed young woman, Jessie Mann, who had practically grown up in front of the camera. Sally Mann’s nude photographs of her children, including Jessie, created great controversy, igniting debate over child exploitation, censorship, and the nature of art.

"By the end of Prince’s first session photographing the adult Jessie, she had become his muse. What followed was a five-year collaboration exploring archetype, transformation, and identity. These have become some of Prince’s most accomplished and respected photographs.

"Prince and Mann make compelling images that reference paintings, famous photographs, historical figures, and mythology. They have been inspired by Ingres’ sumptuous Grand Odalisque, May Ray’s solarized image of Lee Miller, and Robert Mapplethorpe’s self- portrait in leather chaps, among other images. While these photographs can be disturbing and stark, they are often beautiful and fascinating. Theatrical and seductive, these unforgettable images explore the relationship between viewer, subject, and artist by examining personae and their meaning, as well as the very nature of the self." - Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL


  1. Wow! What a great photo, and it must have been fantastic to be there.

  2. I find it fascinating to get into the mind of artists.

  3. Gunn - It was a very special evening. The images of Jessie are fascinating and the "making of" each one is quite a story in itself.

    B - We really spent a lot of time asking questions and talking with Prince about the relationship with his subject. Great stuff!