Exhibition explores early years of vernacular photography through graceful snapshots of female trios

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CHICAGO, IL.- Photographs of celebrations, vacations, and gatherings of family and friends are taken and kept with the aim of preserving moments in life for future generations. What happens, however, when a snapshot becomes an image “type”—transferred into the hands of a collector and folded into a broader cultural history? This subject is explored in the Art Institute of Chicago’s The Three Graces—on view October 29, 2011, through January 22, 2012, in the museum’s Photography Galleries 3 and 4. The exhibition, featuring a private collection of more than 500 anonymous images depicting female trios, spans nearly a century of female role-playing for the camera. These mostly American “found” photographs, spanning from the 1890s to the 1970s, collectively reveal a great deal about the evolving ritual of women’s self-presentation, a theme already idealized in Classical culture with depictions