Gelatin silver print, photographic painting
Image: 51 x 61 cm (20 1/16 x 24 in.); Matted: 76.2 x 81.3 cm (30 x 32 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1996.235
© Willie R. Middlebrook
Edition: unique print
Digital and analog photographs are usually multiples, but this one is a unique print—truly one of a kind.
For his series Portraits of My People, Willie Robert Middlebrook shot traditional, posed portraits of friends and family, then transformed them in the darkroom into charged, one-of-a-kind compositions that suggest a struggle between realistic representation, emotional expression, and abstraction. Middlebrook enlarged each image onto photographic paper, but instead of submerging it in developer, he incorporated painting techniques by brushing, spraying, rubbing, and dripping the chemicals onto the sheet. Who does Middlebrook depict? “My drive . . . ,” he said, “comes from parents endowing strong feelings about the ideals and integrity of being black. . . . Thus the majority of what I do has and always will center around my people.”
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