The Artist Portrait Series: Images of Contemporary African American Artists

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Southern Illinois University Press, 2001 - Photography - 122 pages
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Fern Logan’s collection of photographic portraits documents the emergence of the African American artist into mainstream American art. The Artist Portrait Series captures sixty significant artists from the late twentieth century. Each rich duotone portrait is accompanied by Logan’s commentary on the artist.

Logan began her career as a nature, landscape, and architectural photographer, but in 1983, resolving to put the human figure into her repertoire, she created the photodocumentary Artist Portrait Series. Her philosophy of art as an educational tool prompted her to document the accomplishments of such highly skilled visual artists as Gordon Parks, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Roy DeCarava, and Romare Bearden. Logan expanded the project to promote recognition for prominent black artists in theater, television, film, music, dance, and literature, including Alvin Ailey, Maya Angelou, and Adolph Caesar. Her subjects include well-known artists as well as those who were emerging at the time they were photographed.

For Logan, the artistic process is as important as the final image. Her portraits not only capture the personality of the sitter but also convey the dialogue and rapport between photographer and subject. Logan’s interest in the tonal range of the black-and-white photograph and its contribution to the rich drama between light and dark informs her photographs in a formal manner. By allowing the artist/sitter to construct the photographic moment, Logan creates visually dynamic and psychologically probing images that are reinforced by the immediate studio or living environment. This elegant book documents nearly two decades of her finest portraits.

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About the author (2001)

Fern Logan is an assistant professor of photography at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where her visual literacy courses focus on race, class, and gender. She has received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Her work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

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