Marking our ninth year as an official partner of Paris Photo, J.P. Morgan presented "Collective Identity", a special exhibition featuring iconic works from our Art Collection

Marking our ninth year as official partner of Paris Photo, J.P. Morgan Private Bank was proud to return and exhibit a broad range of photographs from the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection. Collective Identity featured iconic photographs, including recent acquisitions by artists from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.

In keeping with Paris Photo’s emphasis on emerging artists, we selected works that were acquired while the artists’ career recognition was emerging or developing. Through a variety of media and techniques, the artists construct, observe, and document people and their environments, ranging from direct realism to abstracted and conceptual representations. The exhibition, collaboratively curated by the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection team, reflected the Collection’s diverse and international identity, as we celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Here we take a deeper, behind-the-scenes look at a selection of works to explore how the artists convey commentaries on various themes ranging from social, political and historical to the shared human experience.

Ayana V. Jackson (American, born 1977);
Tignon
, 2015
Archival pigment print; Acquired in 2016; 
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection; 
Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Jackson’s photography honors the legacy of the African diaspora by addressing themes of memory and identity. She conducts extensive research for each of her portraits and incorporates references from early photographs, including some of her own relatives. In this work, the artist adopts period clothing to emulate and celebrate middle-class black American women of the 19th century.

The title refers to the Tignon Law that was imposed upon women of African descent during the 1790s in Spanish-controlled New Orleans. The law prescribed and enforced “appropriate” public dress in colonial society, which required women’s hair to be covered. In this staged self-portrait, Jackson plays the role of a 19th century woman of African descent in a dignified, confident pose. Her hair is covered in an elegant manner—a creative way to subvert the oppressive law and assert her agency as both subject and object of the photograph, allowing the viewer to imagine numerous storylines for the protagonist.

Carolle Bénitah (French Moroccan, born 1965)
Toto à 7 mois, 2018
Digital print enhanced with gold leaf; Acquired in 2018;
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection;
Courtesy the artist and Galerie 127

Toto à 7 mois explores family and memory—an acknowledgement of the artist’s own experiences with these themes.

While Bénitah was growing up in Morocco, all of her family photographs were thrown away in despair when a family member died unexpectedly, and a relative could not bear to see the images. Bénitah began gathering photographs of families at open air markets and antique shops, creating a surrogate family archive with the specific faces and bodies covered over in gold leaf—a surface upon which to imagine her own lost family, as well as an historical nod to Renaissance gold-ground paintings to signify precious value.

Bénitah was born in Casablanca and graduated from Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. She worked as a fashion designer for 10 years before turning to photography full time in 2001.

Annette Lemieux (American, born 1957)
Striking a Pose, 1987
Gelatin silver print; Acquired in 1989;
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection;
© Annette Lemieux / Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Lemieux evolved as an emerging artist in the 1980s and was considered part of the “Pictures Generation,” which included artists such as Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler and Richard Prince. The artists borrowed images from film, television and advertising and re-contextualized them in their artworks to create new meanings.

Striking a Pose is included in the artist’s book Memoirs of a Survivor, a hardcover, cloth-bound book with original gelatin silver prints.

Ryudai Takano (Japanese, born 1963)
Human Body 1/1, 1999 / 2017
Gelatin silver print; Acquired in 2017;
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection;
© Ryudai Takano, Courtesy Yumiko Chiba Associates

Takano explores and expresses themes of sexuality and the beauty of the human body in his work, helping people to “acquire a sense of the connection they have with the bodies of others.”

Takano began this series of works as a study of his own body, which he then archived before later deciding to print and exhibit the images. Each work is a group of negatives printed in a 1:1 ratio to his body. Takano’s recent work has focused on his fascination with the diversity of the human form and the social implications and consequences these differences can evoke in creating and communicating both individual and universal identity.

Born in Fukui City, Takano graduated from Waseda University’s School of Political Science and Economics in 1987.

Alexandra Colmenares Cossio (Peruvian, born 1986)
Untitled, 2017
Digital photograph; Acquired in 2017;
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection;
© Alexandra Colmenares Cossio

Alexandra Colmenares Cossio (Peruvian, born 1986)
Untitled, 2017
C-print; Acquired in 2017;
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection;
© Alexandra Colmenares Cossio

Colmenares Cossio’s work comprises two different, yet complementary, methodologies. She uses photography as a medium to collect a series of images in the form of a visual diary, and she also works with installation, inspired by personal actions and experiences in which time and space play important roles. Moreover, she studies the objects and people that surround her, focusing on the human body—sometimes her own.

With each project the artist aims to question and find ways of understanding everyday life by creating connections between images and objects. The picture-taking process is central to her artwork: When using digital technology and analog processes, she takes just one image, as if she were using a traditional, analog camera. The specific moment, and the light in a particular place and time, are integral to her creative practice.

Colmenares Cossio studied Photography at Centro De La Imagen in Lima, Peru and Fine Arts at Kask School of Arts in Ghent, Belgium.

Neil Goldberg (American, born 1963)
Other Peoples’ Prescriptions, 2018
Suite of 8 inkjet prints on archival paper; Acquired in 2018;
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection;
Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York

Goldberg’s artistic practice ranges from photography to the performing arts, and is deeply rooted in his experience of daily life living in and navigating New York City. A conceptual artist with a subversive wit and an anthropological fascination with observing people, Goldberg, through this work, expresses his fundamentally warm interest in the rhythm of life on the city’s streets and its magnitude of diversity.

Comprising eight photographs, this work captures the individuality of people wearing glasses, as well as the universal experience of seeing the world through the lenses of others’ experiences. It is at once a literal and a metaphorical invitation to empathize with how other people see the world and a powerful reminder of the shared human experience, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or other identifiers.