The photographic work of Jessica Craig-Martin (Hanover, USA, 1963) represents an iconographic portrayal of high society, mainly American, based on and identified by the expression and exhibition of luxury.
Her vision focuses on accessories and details in such a way that the representation of this social class - always as a group, never individual - is produced through capturing motifs, postures and gestures, where the construction of the identity of public personalities comes to the fore.
Since her work for Vanity Fair and Vogue, Jessica Craig-Martin has developed a very unique way of addressing here objectives; she moves away from traditional resources used in documentary photography, instead stressing the superficial motifs that the social image of her subjects is based on: millionaires at parties, opening ceremonies or charity balls. By employing this strategy, her final aim is to dismantle this said social identity.
The thirty-two photographs that make up the exhibition point to the contrast between the image itself and its content due to that fact that each one encompasses an implicit renouncement. This dichotomy is accentuated through the portrayal of the harmonisation of aesthetics in the photographic compositions, dominated by colour, and the gloss and texture of the fabrics, jewellery and excessive makeup, which results in visual registers that endeavour to disrupt the image of luxury and turn it into one of misery and moral, ethical and physical decadence.
Moreover, her aesthetic volition can be seen in the choice of framing and the meticulous compositions that on numerous occasions give rise to images that move towards Abstraction. In many cases the subjects appear voluntarily guillotined, thus enabling the artist to consider a lower view that takes in necklines, jewellery, handbags, hands, fabrics, legs and shoes.
From a compositional and conceptual perspective, the critic and historian Richard Shone points out that, “for Craig-Martin the torso needs to be fed as much as the arms that make an angle on the table”.
Her work is also characterised by instant images that are direct and unmanipulated and reject any electronic or digital trickery; therefore, securing a direct interpretation of the photographs as well as her aesthetic discourse in the process.
Museo Reina Sofía Publications
28 February – 1 July 2024
Olga de Soto
Reconstruction of a Danse MacabreProgram: Fisuras
21 February - 24 June 2024
The Practice of Art
1 December 2023 – 10 March 2024
Ulla von Brandenburg
29 November 2023 - 11 March 2024
15 November 2023 - 4 March 2024
The Turning Point
23 February – 7 June 2024
What They Saw
Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843-1999Library and Documentation Centre