in conjunction with the exhibition of Precious Objects at the Zanesville (OH) Museum of Art, the director, Susan Talbot-Stanaway, presented a lecture on February 2 entitled "What Does a Portrait Say?" We had had a bunch of people at the house the night before (a dinner for Emmet Gowin if you force me to name drop.) Nevertheless I drove through a snowstorm that morning to attend the lecture. Susan compared Wyeth's Self Portrait with Palette to the top half of the portrait of Naazir which is in the exhibit. Made the trip worth it. The similarities between the two works are amazing. The point of view, the lighting, the way the objects are embraced and even the expression on the faces are nearly mirror images. Naazir was one of my subjects at the African-American Museum in Hempstead New York. My friend who had arranged the shoot, the fine photographer Laura Glabman, and I arrived 40 minutes before the scheduled start to set up the seamless, studio lights and my 4x5 wooden camera. Unfortunately, the museum was locked until the actual start time. By then we had a line of people waiting to participate - a situation that continued until the session was over. Naazir's image is not a portrait in the usual sense. It was pretty much "Stand over there, hold your object close to you and don't move your feet once I have focussed." In many ways, it was as much a self-portrait as Wyeth's. The other tie between to the two is that when describing Precious Objects and selecting pieces for exhibit or the book, I have frequently told people to consider the photographs as illustrations to the written statements. Wyeth, of course, was known as an illustrator (and the father of Andrew Wyeth.) Of course, when the subject shows through his image as strongly as Naazir did, the result is special.
You can see the Wyeth at the Brandywine River Museum where it is on loan from Mrs. Andrew Wyeth. As for Naazir, his image is the graphical inspiration for a new project I am starting this week whose subject is the love of music.
Difficult to talk about the father without mentioning the son, Andrew Wyeth. Some nice info about Andrew here Andrew Wyeth on Artsy