“More abstract than color, black-and-white has discretely introduced a fantastic element into the probable if not truthful imagery of everyday reality.” - Jean-Francoise Chevrier
(Jean-Francoise Chevrier is a critic curator who has followed Faigenbaum since the beginning of the photographer’s career, commented on Faigenbaum’s famous black-and-white photographic series.)
Faigenbaum is best known for his portraits of families of Italian aristocrats. Because black-and-white photography lacks additional information of object details, it requires attentive presentation of figures and space in specific lighting condition. Faigenbaum uses this abstraction selectively; in situations where he captures portraits of one person, he does not introduce additional light sources except soft diffused light which portray a figure with chiaroscuro. The strong contrast along the gradient emphasizes and blends the volumes of the figure-space relations. Particularly in the first image, the woman in bed could be understood in the vivid skin and facial expression; while the composition is simple, the viewers are constantly left with uncertainty where batch of shadows begins to merge, and the focus of the photograph jumps between the strong white of the lamp and the half-seen face.
Unlike conventional portraits of the nobility where the person is highly celebrated, this photograph places the figures between two bright regions: the candle stand and the column framed by a window in the back room. Across the shooting space lays various vertical elements that the standing figures, along with these things, create a pattern in the room.
In the review by Vancouver Art Gallery critics, Faigenbaum’s photography “– whether presented alone or in a series – offers a time and space set apart from life and held in tense, contemplative stillness by its frame.” Faigenbaum’s works are presented in major institutions such as New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and Centre Pompidou in Paris, and he has won the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award on June 10th of this year.
The Exhibition is currently up in Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome, Italy