Interim Portrait #373

Accession Number

Interim Portrait #373

Bill Jacobson

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
dye coupler print on paper

30 in x 36 in (76.2 cm x 91.4 cm);44 1/2 in x 36 3/4 in (113.03 cm x 93.35 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York

Label copy
Much of Bill Jacobson's work has focused on portraits that are barely discernible yet carry powerful feelings of tentativeness and vulnerability in the age of AIDS. More than that, Jacobson's work deals universally with loss and the fading of memories as well as the photographs that help to preserve them. Fragile yet strong, powerful yet transient, present but fading, these works carry their moving message directly to the viewer for meditation and reflection.
Addressing these interwoven themes and their origins in his work, Jacobson said: "My pictures often function as metaphors for the way the mind works: simultaneously collecting images while letting others go, fading in the way that memories fade, and alluding to the fact that, historically, photographs have faded as well.... While my photography is not specifically about AIDS, it refers to what I learned from being part of a community ravaged by the epidemic. By losing a steady stream of friends and acquaintances these past fourteen years I have come to understand the transient nature of existence. For me these photographs have been a way of recording these feelings in an ongoing attempt to define them for myself. My works suggests these moments, like life itself, are constantly fading into the past."
Sean Ulmer, "A Matter of Degree" 11/2001

Subject matter
Bill Jacobson's large-scale photographic works address themes of mortality and loss in the aftermath of AIDS. Using the unfocused figure, Jacobson's work suggests both emergence and dissolution while also commenting on photography's ability to capture passing moments. Jacobson describes his work as "an ongoing meditation around desire, loss, and the role of photography as a vehicle for remembrance." 

Physical Description
A blurred bust-length portrait of a man's head; he stares straight ahead, his mouth open.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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busts (figures)
heads (representations)
portrait heads

& Author Notes

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