Sam Taylor- Wood: Crying Men & Peachtree Road
“Women cry and men get angry,” a casual comment made at a dinner party, was the impetus behind world renowned British photographer Sam Taylor-Wood’s Crying Men series, a selection of which Jackson Fine Art is thrilled to premiere in the Southeast. Taylor-Wood decided she wanted to show “men stripped of their defenses.” She photographed her subjects in a most vulnerable state, an unguarded emotional display that not only usually has no witnesses, but also one that is not usually considered appropriate for men to engage. But their supposed genuine tears can never be fully believed as such because these crying men are also famous actors, including Ed Harris, Forest Whitaker, and Paul Newman, men celebrated for their ability to portray a range of emotions in front of a camera. The photographs’ exquisite cinematic aesthetic is ironic—these actors are stripped of the storylines their films provide and we are used to. Taylor-Wood’s work intensifies the way in which we identify with her subjects. We don’t empathize with a character. Instead, we relate to the raw emotion itself, either what it feels like to be the one helplessly crying or the bewildered bystander.
Taylor-Wood’s Peachtree Road photographs, which will also be on display, were taken on a ten-day road trip through Georgia in 2004. Commissioned by legendary musician Elton John for his album of the same name, these black and white photographs are lyrical depictions of a pastoral south that is frequently forgotten still exists. They immediately invite comparison with some of the most beloved photographs ever taken of the south, those commissioned by the WPA during the Great Depression. Over seventy years later, though the desperation of the WPA photographs is thankfully absent from Taylor-Wood’s, the landscape is still remarkably similar. Peachtree Road pays homage to a place that despite one’s efforts to the contrary, gets into your blood once you’ve been.