Ralph Gibson, Antiquities Dealer, Rome, 1984

Ralph Gibson (American, b. 1939), Antiquities Dealer, Rome, 1984

Ralph Gibson (American, b. 1939), Antiquities Dealer, Rome, 1984. Gelatin Silver Print, 12 1/2 x 8 3/16 in. Gift of Dr. Kristaps J. Keggi

At the top of the frame a cloth is lifted to reveal not a head but darkness where the face would be. The lighting and focus direct us, instead, to the hand that lifts the cloth to betray the signs of age we ascribe to antiques and the other hand that holds a pair of spectacles. Nonchalantly gestural, this tool for seeing becomes an accessory to the styling of the surface to which our attention is called. The textures of the buttoned knit, collar points, and tie surfaces are not just fragments of a type (the dealer in antiquities) that refuse to collect to give us the visage of a particular person. The focus that brings the seemingly minor into central view also deviates our approach, engaging us in lavishing the kind of attention to detail attributed to the queer figure of the aesthete devoted to style.

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