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James Baldwin

(BALDWIN, JAMES.) Barboza, Anthony. James Baldwin

New York, 1975

Silver gelatin print. 20 x 16 in. Signed by the photographer, Anthony Barboza.

This powerful portrait captures the pensive nature of the famous writer and civil rights activist James  Baldwin. Baldwin is best known for his novel Go Tell it on the Mountain and his collection of essays Notes of a Native Son. The author’s work explores race, sexuality, and class distinction, issues that Barboza also frequently confronts in his photography.

“I love America more than any other country in the world, and exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually” (James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son).

“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster” (James Baldwin).

This powerful portrait is signed by Anthony Barboza (b. 1944), who is most famous for his photographs of jazz musicians in the 1970s and 1980s. His work has been exhibited in countless solo and group shows and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Cornell University, the Brooklyn Museum, the Schomburg Center – NYPL, and the National Portrait Gallery, among others.

“When I do a portrait, I’m doing a photograph of how that person feels to me; how I feel about the person, not how they look. I find that in order for the portraits to work, they have to make a mental connection as well as an emotional one. When they do that, I know I have it” (Anthony Barboza).