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By Thomas Connors | June 28, 2016 | Culture
Hilton Asmus Foto celebrates the female icons of our time with "La Femme: Beauty & Form.”
Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin in 1969
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the fashion world, movies, and magazines play a profound role in determining the faces we admire. Yet as the exhibit “La Femme: Beauty & Form” reminds us, even within that seemingly limited roster, the attributes that make a countenance comely vary widely from person to person. There’s the sleepily voluptuous cast of Brigitte Bardot’s face; a wide-eyed, waifish intensity in the expression of Audrey Hepburn; and a certain self-aware aloofness in the lanky figure of Jane Birkin.
On view at Hilton Asmus Foto, “La Femme” features the work of six photographers, including film industry favorite Douglas Kirkland, the ubiquitous Terry O’Neill (whose photos came to define the Swinging Sixties), and fine art photographer Susan Aurinko. “Our idea,” says gallerist Arika Hilton, “is to explore the female form, and not just as a sex symbol.” As a late-in-life image of Coco Chanel telegraphs, the couturier’s appeal was never about her physical appearance, but the idea of beauty she created through her designs. And while nothing can completely stifle the elemental oomph of Marilyn Monroe, Kirkland’s portrait of her in bed—wrapped in a Grecian whorl of sheets— transforms the star from sexpot to something so much more: woman. June 30-August 12. 716 N. Wells St., 312-852-8200
PHOTOGRAPHY by ICONIC IMAGES / TERRY O’NEILL