How We Perceive Beards: Past & Present

Samantha Janazzo (November 29, 2016)
A beard is a personal reflection, a key to confidence, and has undoubtedly transformed throughout history in various cultures. Italian photographer Roberto Chierici has explored today's mentality of beards through a series of photographs- now on display at the Atlantic Gallery in Manhattan.

Your Shape” is a photographic display that will briefly exhibit at the Atlantic Gallery in Chelsea. It explores the idea of masculine identity in a search for personal individuality through various images centered on male facial hair. This focus evidently exposes the “beard trend” that has, up until now, taken over New York City and has debuted around the world throughout time.

The dedication of Milanese photographer Roberto Chierici and curator Erika Arosio, accompanied by barbers Robert Briscolini and Giovanni Cibin, have left their mark in galleries in Europe and Asia before reaching the United States.

Facial hair is beyond a simple trend; beards have transformed in time as symbols of masculinity, power, force, and wisdom. Just look at America's Presidents; there is an obvious transition from donning substantial facial hair to remaining clean-shaven. This creates a case for the significance of beards through time and raises inquiries about the meaning of the trend today.

This study seeks to prove that the artistic beard is far more psychological than the past's natural beards, whose bushy thickness was a symbol for strength and knowledge. Today, beards give men a sense of security, as they are more personalized and kept, rendering a stronger personal awareness and feeling of self- as opposed to catering to the viewer’s perception of strength of manliness. It's really more about feeling good and comfortable with yourself.

The Atlantic Gallery is developing this fascinating cultural, allegorical, and psychical approach to the nicely groomed beard. The models all posed for Roberto Chierici and were groomed by the renowned aforementioned barbers, who disclosed that beard grooming is a serious and important field in their career. It requires attention to detail, a great deal of patience, and a major understanding of what the client desires to be displayed on their face.

“Your Shape” has been exhibited across the world and people continue to be fascinated by the anthropological perspectives of the beard’s effect on civilization and time. Photography and cosmetology create a case study for an art created by barbers who, just like artists throughout history, have challenged one of the many approaches of treating the face like a canvas.