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Repros, photograph by Sylvia Plachy.

Style (stil) n. 1.The way in which something is said, done, expressed, or performed. 2.The combination of distinctive features of literary or artistic expression, execution, or performance characterizing a particular person, group, school, or era. 3.Sort; type. 4.A quality of imagination and individuality expressed in one’s actions and tastes.

    That’s a dictionary’s attempt to define style. The photograph here, shot by Hungarian-born Sylvia Plachy, is part of a broader, more multi-dimensional effort by this year’s Penn Humanities Forum to define that elusive concept. Forty-seven of her works are now on display at the Arthur Ross Gallery—including “Repros,” which is the title of both the photograph and the exhibition itself.
    According to Dr. Dilys Winegrad Gr’70, the gallery’s director and curator, Plachy was invited to select her own works for the exhibition in conjunction with the Humanities Forum, and her “whimsical images capture the many ways we as humans impose and reflect style and styles in the world around us.”
    Plachy’s “Unguided Tour,” a column of photographs without commentary, ran for many years in The Village Voice, where she is staff photographer; her 1990 book by that name won the International Center for Photography’s Infinity Award for best publication. Her other books Red Light (1996) and this year’s Signs & Relics, which prompted filmmaker Wim Wenders to write: “I finally put Sylvia’s book down and realized in amazement that photographs can cover all the good word territories.”

“Repros: Photographs by Sylvia Plachy,” runs from Sept. 5 through Oct. 29 at the Arthur Ross Gallery.

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