I RECENTLY CAME ACROSS A CARD WITH A PAINTING OF WILL’S ON IT CALLED SLEEPING CHILD (1961) PUBLISHED BY THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION. INSIDE I FOUND A BEAUTIFUL LOVE NOTE THAT SOMEONE HAD WRITTEN. THIS PAINTING HAS BECOME MY FAVORITE AND I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE IT.
My partner photographer Joe DiMaggio has always loved the Sea. It draws him in like a magnet. Years ago, he did a story for one of the Sporting Magazines on Shark Fisherman Frank Mundus. Rumor had it that Mundus was the role model for Benchley’s character “Quint” in the movie Jaws. Mundus and Joe became friends. Mundus often asked Joe to come along on charters, when he needed an extra hand. Because of his love of the Sea and the opportunity to photograph out there, as well, Joe was more than happy to go along.
When Mundus and Donnie Braddock caught the 3427 lb Great White in Montauk, Joe was the first person Mundus called ship to shore. Joe hired a small plane to fly to Montauk and photograph them as they came in with the catch. At the time, it was a considered a Rod and Reel Record. Joe’s photos ran throughout the world.
I was a young mother at the time, wanting to stay close to home. I was asked to do some public relations for Mundus and I agreed. One of the first things, I did was get him on the Late Show with David Letterman. As you can see I was successful in getting him on the show and afterwards booking him two other times as well. It was a great experience. We had a lot of fun and Dave was very nice.
Last Friday I received an e mail from the Chief of the Department of Image Collections Mr. Gregory Most, at the National Gallery of Art informing me that my portrait of Will Barnet has been mentioned in their 2013 Annual report on page 21. It reads – The artists’ portraits collection added self-portraits by Arthur Fellig, known as Weegee, c. 1950; Philippe Halsman, c. 1955–1960; and Jerry Uelsmann, c.1970. Other artists’ portraits include Fernand Léger by Herbert Matter, 1939; Frida Kahlo by Manuel Alvarez – Bravo, c.1938, printed 1960; Paul Eluard in his apartment by Brassaï, 1944, printed 1960; Andy Warhol being photographed by Horst by David Bailey,1972; and Will Barnet by JoAnne Kalish, 2005, printed 2013. David Dufour donated a pair of photograph postcards of Marsden Hartley by Carl van Vechten,1939.
Totally an honor to be amongst the group. It was a great way to end the week on such a high note!
Photograph the person with a portrait lens and with minimum depth of field, unless of course, you’re doing an environmental portrait. Make your subject feel comfortable and relaxed by talking to them and telling them what you would like to do. If it’s a formal portrait in the studio, make sure your lights are all set up. Your camera should be set to the right exposure beforehand, as well as knowing where you stool will be placed if you are using one etc. Have the person sit with one shoulder a little more towards you instead of straight on as it’s much more flattering. When you are making these portraits keep shooting and show the person a photo or two so they become more involved in the process. Always suggest to the person that they wear something they feel comfortable in. Layers of clothing are nice for both men and women as it adds interest. I personally like soft feminine and flattering necklines as well for women. If they wear glasses either ask them to remove them or place the glasses a little lower on the bridge of their nose so as not to see the reflection of the lights (you might have to move your lights.) Remember most women need softer lighting as it’s more flattering. When photographing in available light and on-the-fly you need to quickly come up with an interesting and appropriate background which will not detract from the person. Obviously if it’s an environmental portrait you may want to use the person’s workspace or living space to tell something about the person. If you can, try to have more than one idea where to place the person and move them around. Again more times than not, this relaxes the person and puts them more at ease, knowing you know what you’re doing.
Artist Will Barnet, legendary painter and print maker just turned 100 in May, recently received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.
Barnet received this high honor “for his contributions as an American painter, printmaker, and teacher,” according to the citation. “For over 80 years, Mr Barnet has been a constant force in the visual arts world, marrying sophistication and emotion with beauty and form,” the citation said.
Will can no longer stand, but he still paints three to four hours a day in his duplex apartment in the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park, where he and his wife Elena have lived since 1982. If you are not familiar with his work he is known for his abstract and expressionist paintings as well as his depictions of family and personal scenes. Will taught at Cooper Union and Yale, among other places. His famous students include Mark Rothko and Alex Katz.
I had an assignment from Arts & Antiques Magazine to do a spread on Will approximately 7 years ago and it was the best assignment I’ve ever had bar none. It was a total privilege and honor just to meet him, let alone photograph him. I totally admire his artwork and as a human being I’ve never met anyone quite like him. He is so genuine giving and unassuming. He is totally supportive of women in the arts and if you think about his age and his artist contemporaries you will realize that was rarely the case. Will and I have stayed in touch over the years as he has told me his favorite portrait is the one I did of him and no one has captured him the way I have. He always requests my photograph of him, to be used alongside his work and he has an obvious favorite.
I just want to totally brag here and say Will called me this past New Year’s Day to wish Joe and I a very Happy New Year. I was totally blown away! That’s what I mean about him being so special!
Here is a selections of some of Will Barnet’s Paintings –