Carl Van Vechten, Gertrude Stein on the Terrace, Bilignin, 1934

Carl Van Vechten, Gertrude Stein on the Terrace

Carl Van Vechten (American, 1880-1964), Gertrude Stein on the Terrace, Bilignin, 1934. Silver Print, 21 x 17 in. Gift of D. Frederick Baker from the Baker/Pisano Collection, 2012.1.42

The exchange of looks between Stein and her dachshund Pete in this photograph suggests the recognition of identity; the “I” located on the face. Questioning the face as the presumed site of identity, we might ask, what can be seen or known from looking? While it seems that the look that counts is always a human one, the dog who looks—looks at, looks back, and looks with—also engages in a mutual intimacy. This intimacy is perhaps not a looking-as-knowing that would solidify identity located on the human face, but a question of the differences between human and animal, and what makes the “I.”