Reading the messages

Portraits and Power at Strozzina

Alexandra Korey
October 21, 2010

I'm not sure what I had expected from the exhibit Portraits and Power at the Strozzina, Palazzo Strozzi's contemporary art space, because it is running in tandem with the Bronzino exhibition upstairs and I (correctly only in part) assumed that it is about how contemporary figures construct powerful self-images through photography-in a manner similar to Bronzino's carefully planned portraits of Cosimo de' Medici and his family. So when I was first greeted by Helmut Newton's large black and white portrait of Margaret Thatcher, I figured I'd hit the nail on the head. But as I worked my way through the space, I realized that the word ‘portraits' in the show's title is just half of the equation: it's portraits and power, not of power. For power, we learn, can be represented through spaces, actions and hidden organizations, not only through what we think of as portraits.


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