May 21st, 2008

Another field trip

We have always been movie stars. I suspected this, but after going to the Legion of Honor yesterday, I am convinced.

Brent wanted to see the Annie Liebovitz exhibit. (It is wonderful and it closes this weekend. Hurry up and go see her work!) It is a wonderful mix of her personal photos and her higher-profile work with celebrities. There are experts out there who can tell you exactly why she is a genius. I find satisfaction in her clarity of vision and her grasp of the power of the traditional tricks of portraiture. Consider these two images, both of which I saw yesterday:

This is, obviously, Al Pacino, as photographed by Annie Liebovitz:

This is Sir Duncan Campbell of the Scot Guards, circa 1815, as painted by Sir Henry Raeburn:

Pacino has his hands in the 21st century equivalent of his sash. Both men have that serious cast that implies they are men of bravery and worth, men who know what their vocations cost and who pay up. Whether the times require epaulettes or pocket squares, the uniform is in order, but that’s a minor detail, something that is taken care of and forgotten as the real work happens.

There were other echoes between the current exhibition and the regular collection—a portrait of Daniel Day-Lewis and one of a pirate captain, Johnny Depp in his current incarnation and one several centuries earlier, the naked flesh of goddesses, models, saints, and actresses. The athletes in the photos are as sculptural as the Rodin nudes.

It’s all connected and I am glad.