Archive for diane arbus

Unseen, Unpublished Portraits

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2011 by stevemccurry
CHAD-10002NF2

Chad

 

“A true portrait should today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person
looked and what kind of human being he or she was.”
– Philippe Halsman

TIBET-10720NF

Tibet

As human beings we are fascinated with each other and how we look. Diane Arbus talked about the gap between intention and effect as revealed in portraiture. People put on make-up and adorn themselves because they want to create an effect and give a certain impression, but often other people look at them and say it’s tragic or comical or curious or funny or odd.  Portraiture can be that kind of sharp critique.

MOROCCO-10013-(1)

Marrakech, Morocco

 

INDIA-10840

Tibet

Most of my portraits are not formal situations; they are found situations.

TIBET-10663

Tibet

 

We go to another culture to observe how other people live. Sometimes you look at somebody and they have a strong presence, a look, a certain kind of attribute that comes out in the face.

CAMBODIA-10309

Cambodia

INDIA-10736

India

 

BURMA-10191

Burma/Myanmar

A good portrait is one that says something about the person.  We usually see parts of ourselves in others, so the good portrait should also say something about the human condition.

AFGHN-12435

Kunduz, Afghanistan

 

AFGHN-10094NFns.khManininsaneasylum

Kabul, Afghanistan

 

INDIA-10647NF

Mumbai, India

 

Thoughts on Portraiture

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 25, 2009 by stevemccurry
TIBET-10605NF

Tibet, 2002 

“A true portrait should today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.” – Philippe Halsman

As human beings we are all fascinated with each other and how we look. Diane Arbus talked about the gap between intention and effect  as revealed in portraiture. People put on make-up and adorn themselves because they want to create an effect and give a certain impression, but often other people look at them and say it’s tragic or comical or curious or funny or odd. Arbus photographed a woman on Park Avenue trying to make a statement with her appearance, but in fact we see through it, we see the folly. Portraiture can be that kind of sharp critique.

KASHMIR-10075NF

Srinagar, Kashmir, 1999

 

CAMBODIA-10262ns

Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1999

We go to another culture to observe how other people live. Sometimes you look at somebody on the street and they just seem to have a strong presence, a look, a certain kind of attribute that comes out in the face.

AFRICA-10018

Timbuktu, Mali, 1986

 

Most of my portraits are not formal situations; they are found situations.

AFGHN-12927NF

Bamiyan, Afghanistan, 2006

 

In Tibet, for instance, where people have a great sense of style, an innate fashion sense, they come out of the mountains wearing these outlandish hats, make-up, jewelry in their hair.

AFGHN-12889

Bamiyan, Afghanistan, 2006

INDIA-10674NF

Gujarat, India, 2003

The Jains in India have exalted and highly revered monks who are naked because they consider the sky to be their garment. They are detached from material things and being naked is a symbol of their renunciation. The nuns and monks wear masks to ensure that no germs or insects creep in. How did they arrive at that, as opposed to Islam where they go to the other end of the spectrum to be covered in flowing robes?

A good portrait is one that says something about the person.  We usually see parts of ourselves in others, so the good portrait should also say something about the human condition.

FRANCE-10028, France, 1989

Marseille, France, 1987

 

AFGHN-13164

Kabul, Afghanistan, 2006

 

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Bamiyan, Afghanistan, 2006

 

I’ve learned that humor is universal. You do a little bit of mime and people laugh. It’s very easy to use humor to connect to people in any culture.

Part of what I’ve done is to wander and observe the world. What else is more interesting than that? Sometimes I think it’s good to observe our planet as though we were dropped down here to make a field report on Planet Earth.

Excerpt adapted from October 2009 FOCUS Magazine

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