Artist Portraits

On Art and Artists: Artist Portraits

This section of the On Art and Artists collection highlights a number of experimental portraits of artists, and documentaries about the artistic process, from intimate one-on-one close-ups and dialogues, to full studio production studies. These works do not follow a traditional interview format, but are often intended as artworks in their own right. The artists and makers of these Artist Portraits draw artistic inspiration and stylistic license from the collaborators and interlocutors they depict.

 

1980
Reverend Howard Finster: Man of Vision

Reverend Howard Finster was a preacher-turned-folk artist. He created Paradise Gardens Park & Museum, a product of all his murals, drawings, sculptures, and mosaics—and Summerville, Georgia’s largest tourist attraction. He began Paradise Gardens around 1961; in 1976 he responded to a vision to paint sacred art. As this video begins, Finster is painting with his hands in his studio. Finster then embarks on his first visit to New York City and comments upon his exhibition at Phyllis Kind Gallery. He spins rhythmic narratives that turn into miniature sermons.

1977
Liza Bear, Five Video Pioneers

Featuring Vito Acconci, Richard Serra, Willoughby Sharp, Keith Sonnier, and William Wegman

1989
Frame and Context: Richard Ross

Richard Ross discusses his interest in photographing museums—their display of objects, frames, the entire context—in order to question our definitions of the museum. The video also covers his ongoing series of triptychs made using a child’s plastic camera, which Ross turns into “art historical soap operas” by playing off the interactions of the groupings.

Only available on the Fellows of Contemporary Art compilation.

2017
Storyteller, Nicolas Provost

VDB TV: Decades
2010s: Future-Past-Present

An original program for VDB TV: Decades curated by Omar Kholeif.

2018
Gloria's Call, Cheri Gaulke

In 1971, graduate student Gloria Orenstein receives a call from surrealist artist Leonora Carrington that sparks a lifelong journey into art, ecofeminism, and shamanism. A wife and mother of two writing her dissertation for New York University, Orenstein never expects to have her life transformed through female friendship.

1989
Helen and Newton Harrison

This husband and wife team has collaborated on numerous projects in the U.S.and abroad. Their approach to making art involves finding solutions to ecological problems. Both are emeritus professors in the department of visual arts at the University of California-San Diego. Interview by Michael Crane.

 

1989
Helen and Newton Harrison: Altering Discourse

Eco-artists Helen and Newton Harrison define truth as a series of interactions that anyone may join. The Harrisons choose survivalist subjects because we have so encroached upon this environment, we must give it every advantage we can. Only available on the Fellows of Contemporary Art compilation.

 

1972
Howardena Pindell, Hermine Freed

Taped shortly after the creation of the Air Gallery, this conversation between painter Howardena Pindell and Hermine Freed concerns the women’s independent gallery and its role in the feminist movement. Pindell also discusses the development of her work and the relation between black artists and the art world.

2012
Matt Wolf, I Remember: A Film About Joe Brainard

Matt Wolf returns to Joe Brainard's iconic poem I Remember (1970) in this videowork. His archival montage combines audio recordings of Brainard reading from the poem, as well as an interview with his lifelong friend and collaborator, the poet Ron Padgett. The result is an inventive biography of Joe Brainard, and an elliptical dialog about friendship, nostalgia, and the strange wonders of memory.

2016

An elegy to Diane Burns on the shapes of mortality and being, and the forms the transcendent spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of life and death. A place for new mythologies to syncopate with deterritorialized movement and song, reifying old routes of reincarnation. Where resignation gives hope for another opportunity, another form, for a return to the vicissitudes of the living and all their refractions.

“I’m from Oklahoma I ain’t got no one to call my own.
If you will be my honey, I will be your sugar pie way hi ya
way ya hi ya way ya hi yo.”

2015
J. Morgan Puett: A Practice of Be(e)ing

J. Morgan Puett is an internationally renowned artist living on a 95-acre compound in the deciduous forests of northeastern Pennsylvania. Touching on ideas of creative domestication, radical pedagogy, and a critical engagement with one’s environment, Ms. Puett describes her unique home, which she calls Mildred’s Lane.

“It (J. Morgan Puett: A Practice of Be(e)ing) tells a unique story of an important artist that truly lives her art. It’s an exclusive biography of a woman who is widely known to the art world but, as yet, undiscovered by our culture.”

—Roderick Angle

Joe
2018
Cecilia Dougherty, Joe

A portrait of New York author Joe Westmoreland. Joe is reading from his short story Sweet Baby Joe. This video was shot in 2014 in Joe's Chelsea loft, and the reading was recorded in 2016. 

1985
Andre Kertesz: A Poet With the Camera

A pioneer of the small-format camera, Andre Kertesz’s photographic vision shaped the course of contemporary photojournalism. Self-taught and non-conformist, he began photographing in Hungary in 1912 and remained there until 1925, at which time he moved to Paris. In 1936 he moved to New York City, where he felt displaced and forgotten. It wasn’t until 1964 that he was “rediscovered” and began showing in London, Paris, and New York. This video was shot five weeks before Kertesz’s death in 1985 at the age of 91.

2002
Cecilia Dougherty, Kevin & Cedar

I arranged a visit to poet/novelist Kevin Killian’s South of Market apartment in San Francisco to shoot a portrait of him, and when I arrived he had a guest, poet Cedar Sigo. They had corresponded earlier, but were meeting for the first time, and Cedar agreed to participate in our video shoot. This is perhaps the least planned, most verité and documentary of the videos about writers so far. Our immediate plan was for Kevin to read one of Cedar’s poems and for Cedar to read one by Kevin.