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Art Photo Collector

Posts tagged portraiture:

"Obey the principles without being bound by them."—Bruce Lee 

I came across the work of Michael Mapes quite by accident via the BBC. Seeing it for the first time online, however, I was struck with intense curiosity. How were these portraits constructed, and how much work went into creating them? On the off-chance, I sent Michael an email. We later spoke on the phone and arranged to meet in person to chat and to view his work.

Referencing Dutch Master portraiture, Michael Mapes,”specimens” deconstruct and painstakingly re-construct how our eyes interpret. It takes a particular artistic vision to manifest work that takes you somewhere new. Vials of hair, resin, sequins, thread, photos, jewelry and more—all (at the end of a pin) go into making these “dimensional collages.” The result is a portraiture unlike anything I’ve seen before. 

For now, Michael Mapes may be relatively unknown, but if his work continues to follow, and not be bound by, the principles of good art—authenticity, resonance, and a yearning for beauty— his work will not remain so. This guy is onto something. —Lane Nevares 

To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.”—Ansel Adams

The photogravure process, when done well, can yield magnificent results. The photographer Fritz Liedtke’s series and book “Astra Velum” (Veil of Stars) embraces this vintage technique. These penetrating portraits of freckled and scarred faces are wonderful to behold online, however, to actually hold them, is to truly appreciate the craftsmanship, the tonalities, and the tactile luxury of the Japanese paper.

Liedtke’s work is currently on view in Miami as part of the group show, “Historical Process/Contemporary Vision,” at the Dina Mitrani Gallery. While his explorations of skin and freckled faces represent a straightforward portraiture, these portraits also offer emotional resonance and beauty. If the eyes are our “windows to the soul,” then these images ask us to look inside beyond the “veil of stars.” —Lane Nevares

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."—Edgar Degas

The exhibit, About Face, opened last May at Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco. The sheer breadth of the show, focusing on portraiture and featuring more than one-thousand photographs from the Pilara Foundation and other collections, is astonishing.  And, after eleven and half months on display, will sadly end next week.

For anyone in the Bay area or passing through, mark your calendars and treat yourselves to an exceptional experience before it ends. Pier 24 Photography is a place to view and think about photography. Unlike other venues, one must first schedule a free appointment online. This controls the volume of visitors and allows everyone to have the time and space to quietly contemplate the work on view. There are no labels on the walls and the lighting is perfect. Every consideration is made to present the work at its best.

"About Face" broadly embraces the history and possibilities of portrait photography in its myriad forms. From the mid-nineteenth century to today, this wide-ranging, extensive and important collection offers a superlative opportunity to see master works, contemporary marvels and everything in between in one of photography’s finest institutions. Remarkable. —Lane Nevares