David Hilliard Research Paper

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  • Topic: Art, David Hilliard, New Britain Museum of American Art
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DAVID HILLIARD

David Hilliard “Widow” (2003)

Research Paper by Amr Kashmiri

Background & Description of his work

David Hilliard makes unique multi panel images that narrate complex yet personal stories. The scenes his photographs portray are mostly staged and set up in a manner that they showcase Hilliard’s strong sense of perception and depth of field. Because the photographs are set up, there's a certain kind of rigidity in Hilliard’s work that is similar to the older portraits from the turn of the century, when cameras were very big and clunky and exposures were very long due to the slow photographic process.

His photos also act as self-portraits in a away, as they show the people that Hilliard chooses to surround himself with; A lot of his work show people in very private instances, with very private possessions; both elderly and young men and women appear half dressed performing normal daily routines such as ironing, eating, reclining, vamping, watching and/or reading pornographic material. Homosexuality, heterosexuality, the essence of masculinity, femininity, the father/son relationship, solitude, and isolation from a group; are all major themes in Hilliard’s Photographs.

Hilliard’s Camera fractures the spaces that his subjects inhabit. The sequencing of photographs and shifting of focal planes allows Hilliard the luxury of guiding the viewer across the photograph, directing their eye; an effect which could not be achieved through a single image. Hilliard focuses on different things in each of the frames. This way of setting up a photograph inherently leaves clues for the spectator to figure out, interpreting the images one sees as a story happening. The multi panel work declines to a seamless transition in our panoramic view of the scene. The seams do not quite match between two of the images. Instead of a smooth transition from frame to frame, we are jolted a bit and reminded that we are looking at photographic media, not a window to the world outside the gallery. David has become a major figure in photography, and an active photography educator. David Hilliard holds an MFA from and is a professor of photography at Yale University. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2001, and is widely collected and shown. His work has appeared in publications such as; Blind Spot; and ART news. Galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and at the Bernard Toale Gallery here have represented his work in Boston.

His photographs often show his take on a range of themes and situations, from the awkwardness of adolescence to masculinity disarmed. In his first major photographic publication, David Hilliard debuts his profound, poignant, and sometimes disturbing images of fictitious reality on the internal life set in the complexities of modern American society. It Includes photographs he took of his father that demonstrate Hilliard's ability to tangle fact with fiction. The work itself is not stark and one-sided, there is comedy and humor; a more rounded view of our culture. His other works talk about issues such as intimacy, homoeroticism, and identity. Hilliard shares the style of contemporary photographers like Gregory Crewdson and Anna Gaskell. There is also a classical resonance in Hilliard’s photographs; the lush colors and precise plane of focus reference a new type of pictorialism, despite their hyperrealist quality.

Interpretation of his work

Starting with color, the color on the images is hyper-saturated, intense, and lush. Hilliard intends on showing this as fiction, a fantasy. What are mostly all natural shots are more wondrous than nature itself in the vibrancy of the colors. As Hilliard’s work focuses on a range of themes and people that revolve around his life, I will talk in depth mainly about the Subject that is seen appear most in Hilliard’s photos. His Father. These father images deal with many themes, such as age, time, masculinity, and identity. But the overwhelming sense of...
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