Carlo Bilotti Museum Exhibition, Rome
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s photographic portraits hew to the demands of glamour while interjecting a sly, subversive edge. His sitters always look their best, despite an obviously crumpled shirt (Bill Murray) or a well-lit wrinkle (Tom Hanks), and never look stitched up or puppetlike. They are relaxed, always staring back with an unflinching gaze. Of course, the photographer’s task is helped by his raw material: A-list movie stars and other people well versed in the hidden language of the casual pose.

The 50 images in the retrospective, which mixed black –and-white prints with color, and overblown pictures with smaller, more intimate pictures, captured cinema’s biggest names from both in front of and behind the movie camera.

The show opened with a pair of portraits of gruff heavyweight directors from the mid-1970’s — the imposing and ursine Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. Greenfield-Sanders also produced a range of studied innocence, from his portrait of a wide-eyed Rose McGowan to a triptych featuring Hugh Jackman as a bearded knight in medieval armor, an ordinary man on the street, and a bard with a shaved scalp. Elsewhere the masculine grooming in images of Glenn Close, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Helen Mirren was purposely juxtaposed with the fey, androgynous figure of Ethan Hawke, his legs crossed.

For the most part, however, Greenfield-Sanders characteristically shoots head-and-shoulders close-ups before blank backgrounds. The portraits here were forthright, with no obvious subtext. In the past he documented groups of people joined by profession: porn stars, politicians, comedians. In this series actors play themselves. With blemishes, veins, and freckles shown larger-than-life, these pictures are a fascinating investigation into where artifice stops and art begins.