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“The Figure in Photography”

When the Fraser Gallery titled its latest exhibition “The Figure in Photography,” it wasn’t kidding—the show contains many nude bodies but very few faces. The eight artists included in the show take distinct approaches to the human form: Tamaki Obuchi’s images have the soft-focus texture of Edward Steichen’s early works, whereas Jeff Sinckler’s starkly lit African-American female nudes have the unreal, highly reflective look of polished ebony—quite the opposite of the subtly lit black male in Malcom Sharp’s Abi. Chevy Chase photographer Danny Conant’s two images—the more successful of which depicts a woman standing in the cramped pose of Annie Leibovitz’s John Lennon—take a comparatively literal approach. By contrast, Jack Rourke’s nude is so sublimated that she’s almost completely obscured by a sun-dappled curtain. The exhibit’s standout, however, is Massachusetts-based photographer Karin Rosenthal. (Male Couple With Black Lines is pictured.) Some of her nudes look like the kind of botanicals Imogen Cunningham photographed in the ’20s, and other figures in her abstract universe—hips, tummies, and legs—emerge from gently lapping water to assume the shape of fjords—a rather remarkable transformation, given away only by some of the models’ goose bumps. This small show has its ups and downs, but like any good nude, it appeals via the power of suggestion. “The Figure in Photography” is on view from noon to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday to Wednesday, March 14, at Fraser Gallery, 1054 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 298-6450. (Louis Jacobson)