Song of Sentient Beings #1617



Sheet: 101.6 x 127 cm (40 x 50 in.) Framed: 104.8 x 130.2 x 5.1 cm (41 1/4 x 51 1/4 x 2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Not On View


Americas, Contemporary Art, Photography



Bill Jacobson’s photographs of the nude body illustrate the ongoing influence of contemporary art movements on photographic creation. The influence of color-field, or stain, painting is evident in the large scale, abstractness, and flatness of Jacobson’s nude. The ghostly shape floating in blackness is barely recognizable as a human body. As evanescent as smoke or fog, the out-of-focus image makes reference to earlier photographic movements such as spirit photography, with its ectoplasmic forms, and soft-focus Pictorialism. Jacobson, who was overwhelmed by the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the artistic community, alludes to the fragility of the human body. His blurred technique removes the subject from reality and places it within the realm of dream or fading memory, raising the question of whether the photograph is a representation of reality or a work of human imagination.


The artist; with Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; from whom purchased by MFA, March 2000.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by Mrs. George R. Rowland, Sr.


© Bill Jacobson, 1995