New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Andrew Zuckerman
Wisdom
Reviewer #1
Andrew Zuckerman, “Clint Eastwood”

This is an irksome show that brings out the crotchety old fart in even the most benign reviewer. “Wisdom” is the title, but the concept is that if you go around and collect photographs of 50 old celebreties you will somehow have created something meaningful, something that can be packaged into a book, maybe something that will add a bit of moral righteousness to the enclosed check at your nephew’s bar mitzvah. Yes, the collected portraits of Henry Kissinger, Billy Jean King, Desmund Tutu and Clint Eastwood should set any young person off on the path to a significant life.

Well, forget the concept, what about the photographs? They’re good. Access is an important talent in any photographer, and Zuckerman seems to have a flair for it. And techically he knows his way around a stobe set – it’s possible to see just about every hair on every eyebrow in the show. Perhaps the most unsettling image in the show in fact shows just that, a closeup of every hair in someone’s very bushy eyebrow. (Identifying the identity of the sitters is not always easy in the exhibition.) But, other than emphasising the important correlation of good grooming to wisdom, the portraits are all rather flat, almost all the sitters have their game face on. All are experienced sitters and Zuckerman is not the kind of photographer to ask these people to jump up. Aside from the one or two portraits that are not flattering (Zubin Mehta comes to mind) all these portraits could easily grace the back cover of the sitter’s next book.

 by unidentified photographer.
Andrew Zuckerman, “Madeleine Albright”

Back to being persnickity. Census taking is a rather dreary undertaking, but really, is Ravi Shankar the only wise man in the entire Asian continent? Is their no wisdom in South America? Oh well, I blame it on his youth, maybe in another 30 years, Zuckerman will then truly understand the relationship between, wisdom, celebrity and age. (Hint: none.)

Andrew Zuckerman
Wisdom


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