01 March 2012

What's the Story behind this Face?

I truly appreciate art and photography but it was not until recently perhaps, that I realized how much the discipline of portraiture influences my aesthetic eye.  In February alone, I had several opportunities to consume appreciate portraiture.

Fascade of the San Francisco Museum of African Diaspora 
First was the visit to the San Francisco Museum of African Diaspora.  This award-winning structure features an incredible portrait comprised of numerous photographic portraits.  The work can be admired as a whole from the outside of the museum as I captured in the picture.  The Chester Higgins, Jr original portrait of the young African girl is captivating. The mosaic mural created from this photograph is even more powerful because it suggest the concept---we are all a small part of one common whole.  If you are in San Francisco make the time to check out this permanent exhibit. You can also appreciate it online.

A quick walk around the corner (that same day) to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art gave us the opportunity to check out the provocative, if not sometimes disturbing photographs of Francesca Woodman.  The exhibit is no longer at SFMoMA but the PBS Independent Lens series recently aired a documentary on the artist and her family.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders exchanges a word with former
photographic subject, Governor Deval Patrick.
The Governor's portrait is just behind Greenfield-Sanders (ugh!)
Finally, this past weekend I scored the jackpot when my beau suggested we visit the National Portrait Gallery.  I not only got to hear Governor Deval Patrick at a reading (and signing) of his book, A Reason to Believe Lessons from an Improbable Life, but I also got to meet Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, the photographer of The Black List.  An exhibit which happens to include a portrait of Governor Patrick.  While I had seen The Black List documentary and found it enjoyable, I must say that the exhibit of the original photographic portraits was quite powerful.  The large scale and the variety of poses from subject to subject impressed upon me just how expressive portraiture can be. As a viewer, I felt invited into the subject's personal space. This exhibit will remain in DC until the end of April, so there's time for you to see it yourself.

A good portrait is more than just an individual posing for the camera.  It can convey the interesting aspects of a face. The right expression may make you consider, "what was going on just before the shutter opened?"  And, of course, the eyes can really draw you in and force you to ask that question, "What's the story behind this face?"


My Realitty said...

Cool, I hadn't heard about this till your post. CM

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