Just over five years ago, the photographer Robert Maxwell began doing a series of portraits for The New York Times Magazine called “The Originals”. The idea was to highlight creative individualists who all had a certain style and the series jumped out of the gate at a high level and has been cruising along up there ever since. Maxwell’s pictures don’t try to knock you over the head with gimmicks or surprises. He’s more of a traditionalist, but lately his classicism has reached a new depth. He’s still absorbed with surface but it’s now balanced with an equal interest in what’s beneath. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photographer looking so deeply into people’s eyes both literally and figuratively.
This past weekend’s portfolio on the stars of the film “Precious” is a great example. But in particular I would draw your attention to the two pictures of the movie’s star, Gabourey Sidibe – one on the cover and one inside. What stands out for me is the amazing dignity and presence with which he has photographed someone who is so overweight. I’m not an apologist for obesity, but at a time where issues of weight, health, and body image, are being hotly debated – these pictures present an interesting and artful talking point.