The humble chicken is rarely a bird that is portrayed as noble or worth celebrating, but Jean Pagliuso’s (1963, USA) series Poultry Suite may challenge the viewer’s perception on just how beautiful this bird can be. Pagliuso grew up in Southern California, where she helped her father breed and look after more than twenty breeds of chickens. For her latest photo series, which also comes as a book of the same name, she wanted to create a tribute, portraying them as unique individuals each with their own character trait or sense of style. Some look rather familiar, while others stand out comically due to their distinctive plumage. The artist is usually associated with fashion photography or celebrity portraiture, a style that she also adopts for her new subjects. She has taken the essentials of photography, paper and emulsion and combined them with something that is considered preposterous in this medium, leading to the unexpected, and leaving a pleasing and memorable impression. The black and white portraits, printed painstakingly on delicate paper and in tritone to achieve the depth of the grey tones, lend the birds a calm and regal air and shed light on an almost-human personality behind their eyes.
Poultry Suite has been published by The University of Chicago Press and features 45 halftone prints.