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Jessica Lange Awarded George Eastman House Honors; Museum Presents Exhibition
Jessica Lange (American, b. 1949), Mexico. Gelatin Silver Print, 1992-2008.

ROCHESTER, NY.- George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film celebrates Oscar®-winning actress Jessica Lange this summer, with a photography exhibition of her work, a film series, and the awarding of the George Eastman House Honors. Lange visited Eastman House Saturday, July 25, when she introduced her recent film Grey Gardens and also took part in a tribute evening, where she discussed her photography and film career. Lange’s filmography includes King Kong, Tootsie, Blue Sky, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Grey Gardens.

Jessica Lange in Person
The George Eastman House Honors is an award given to an artist whose life work embodies the traditions and values championed by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film. Lange is the first recipient of this newly established award.

Jessica Lange Photography Exhibition
The exhibition 50 Photographs by Jessica Lange will be on view at Eastman House through Sept. 20. The black-and-white images featured depict film locations, family, and the places she has visited on her travels. But rather than a collection of starry shots, most of the photographs are studies of unknown people and far-away places, such as Ethiopia and Romania. After three decades in front of the camera, Lange is now realizing her dream of being on the other side of the lens.

“Jessica’s photographs very much reflect her personality,” noted Aperture magazine. “They are delicate, but powerful…loving, warm, and extremely poetic.”

Lange studied photography at the University of Minnesota and made documentary films in Europe in the late 1960s, before engulfing herself in an acting career. She returned to photography many years later, when her longtime partner Sam Shepard brought a Leica home from a movie set.

“It was great,” Lange told New York magazine. “I’d go down into the basement after the kids were in bed, put one some Al Greene and Same Cooke, and develop pictures.

“It’s a great counterpoint to filmmaking,” Lange explained, “because it’s a private, solitary experience. It’s like writing or painting; it’s something you can do on your own. Acting is a co-dependent art form, and the actor is not in control. And filmmaking definitely informs the decision to photograph something. I’m drawn to situations with a dramatic feel to them as far as lighting or backdrop or people’s presence, the way someone stands.”

A book of Lange’s work was published last year (powerHouse, $60) titled 50 Photographs by Jessica Lange, with an introduction by musician Patti Smith. The images were shot mostly during Lange’s considerable travels as an actress and as a volunteer for charities in Russia and Africa, as well as in the northern part of her native Minnesota, where she still has a home. There’s even one photo from the first roll she took with her Leica, while in Romania, in the early 1990s.

Lange said she loves photography because “it is the antithesis of film or stage work. I can do it privately and on my own time. It is a personal, solitary way of expressing myself.”

Lange has been a collector of black-and-white photography for more than two decades. Her favorites hang throughout her house, she said, providing a constant, if not subconscious, source of inspiration and influence.

“I can describe acting in much more concrete terms than I can photography,” she said of her work. “But there’s something about presenting an image in black-and-white that’s so reductive in a way. It sort of eliminates all extraneous information.”

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film | Jessica Lange | photographs | King Kong | Tootsie | Blue Sky | The Postman Always Rings Twice | Grey Gardens. |

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