Portraits of My People



Willie Robert Middlebrook

(American, 1957-2012)

Gelatin silver print, photographic painting

Image: 51 x 61 cm (20 1/16 x 24 in.); Matted: 76.2 x 81.3 cm (30 x 32 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1996.235

Edition: unique print



The photographs of Middlebrook’s African American community in Los Angeles explore, question, and convey his social and aesthetic concerns. Since the mid-1980s he has transformed traditional portraits, often of his family and friends, into dense, multitoned, and painterly compositions through complex darkroom techniques that can take up to 30 hours. This piercing, close-up portrait symbolizes, in a fragmentary manner, his experiences and thoughts about the divisiveness of identity.

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