Monkey Portraits by Jill Greenberg

Monkey Portraits
Jill Greenberg

Anxious, 2005

Over the last eighteen years, Jill Greenberg has made memorable images of many of the world’s most recognizable celebrities, in addition to creating a recognizable filter of vision itself. An early adopter of digital effects, Greenberg has developed a world that is more intense, more razorsharp than the one in which we actually reside. Jill Greenberg creates portraits that seize our attention, that create an altered universe staring back at us.

Her series, “End Times,” combines beautiful, poignant imagery, impeccably executed, with both political and personal relevance. Greenberg’s subject is taboo: children in pain. She utilizes this uncomfortable image as a way to break through to the pop mainstream and participate in a growing national dialogue of the real dangers facing this country and world. Jill Greenberg’s images are sharp and saturated, stunning and quirky; her work is soaked with realism and imagination. Greenberg’s photography definitely hit a national nerve.

For the series “Monkey Portraits,” Greenberg asks us to consider our origins. We look into her monkey’s expressions, their faces–their peculiar physiognomy–and somehow see ourselves. It is frightening and disorienting, exhilarating and awesome. She mischievously shows us another type of mirror-stage, where we confront an ancient and distorted reflection, another startling spectacle, and try to make sense of who or what we are seeing. By intentionally anthropomorphizing her monkeys, we can not help but identify with their gaze and be reminded of people we know, expressions that we have seen before.   — Excerpt from Jill Greenberg’s bio

Anxious Contact Sheet, 2005
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