Nancy Burson - Photographs New York Thursday, October 7, 2021 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Clamp Art, New York

  • Exhibited

    Faces: Nancy Burson, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 14 March - 17 May 1992; Denver Art Museum, Denver, 30 May - 8 August 1992; Center for Fine Arts, Miami, 5 September - 15 November 1992; Center for Contemporary Art, New Orleans, February - March 1993

  • Literature

    Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Faces: Nancy Burson, pl. 20
    Lipkin, Photography Reborn: Image Making in the Digital Era, pp. 30-31, there titled First Beauty Composite (Bette Davis. Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe) and Second Beauty Composite (Jane Fonda, Jacqueline Bisset, Diane Keaton, Brooke Shields, Meryl Streep)

  • Catalogue Essay

    As a pioneering digital artist Nancy Burson first created her computer-generated composite portraits in the early 1980s. These works, as with First and Second Beauty Composites, were created in collaboration with scientists and researchers at MIT to fully embrace the technology that was available at this very early time in digital image-making.

    The Beauty Composites digitally blends features of prominent 1950s actresses Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelley, Sophia Loren, and Marilyn Monroe in the First Composite and contemporary actresses of the 1980s, Jane Fonda, Jacqueline Bisset, Diane Keaton, Brooke Shields, and Meryl Streep in the Second Composite. The resulting diptych challenges not only the boundaries of what was technologically possible at the time, but also provides commentary on traditional notions of beauty that remain relevant today.


First and Second Beauty Composites

Gelatin silver diptych from computer generated negatives.
Each 7 3/4 x 8 3/4 in. (19.7 x 22.2 cm)
Each signed, titled, dated, numbered 8/15, annotated 'with R.C. and D.K.' and copyright notation in ink in the margin.

$3,000 - 5,000 

Sold for $6,048

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department
+1 212 940 1225


Vanessa Hallett
Deputy Chairwoman, Americas and Worldwide Head of Photographs
+1 212 940 1243


New York Auction 7 October 2021