Pierre Gonnord

French photographer Pierre Gonnord has produced amazing portraits -- mostly of people generally considered marginal by society's standards. Yet, the spare image of those faces with their intense, frontal gazes powerfully evokes a calm dignity and our shared humanity. It is also something that painters have done forever -- and I could not resist pairing examples of Gonnord's compelling faces alongside their "historical" cousins.

Of his work, Gonnord says: "I started on my project in 1999. For me, photography was a kind of lifeline, an opportunity to reach out to others, to approach them. I never once asked myself what I should be doing; I began with a portrait."

In the press release for Gonnord's 2005 exhibition, Jean Charles Leseaux writes: "More than faces, Pierre Gonnord has photographed encounters since 1999. Making large format colour portraits of men and women of all ages, social backgrounds and countries, Gonnord goes in search of identities, of what links all these men and women: "human-ness".

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