The exhibition "Jonas Mekas and Robert Polidori: Portraits" is a never-before seen collection of two longtime friends whose work capture two different worlds.
Mekas was born in Lithuania in 1922; after managing to escape a Nazi labor camp near the end of WWII, the 27 year old moved to New York with a great interest in motion pictures -- eventually becoming the founder of the Anthology Film Archives. He has been known to film the minutia of his daily life, treating the camera as an extension of his eye, and his friends have adopted this outlook. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that many of the snapshots (or "frozen film moments") Mekas captured in his celebrity circles depict an often unseen personal closeness. He snapped photos of Yoko, Edie, Jackie O. and many more of the era's first-name icons in remarkably relaxed states. The pictures capture that nonchalant cool endemic to it-girls and intellectuals that we just can't seem to get enough of.
Left: Jonas Mekas (Baby Jane Holzer at the Factory, December 1963). Courtesy the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery/James Fuentes, New York. Right: Robert Polidori (Chandigarh, India, 1998). Courtesy the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery.
Polidori, on the other hand, was born in Montreal and began working as Mekas' assistant once he moved south to New York. Though originally interested in film, the younger artist soon became entranced with the tranquility of a still photograph's pose. He focused on photographic portraits captured of normal strangers, most of whom he was only in contact with for a fleeting moment. He worked in India, the Middle East, Versailles and Havana -- producing images that are miles away from his NYC mentor's snapshots, but with a core quality that joins the two photographers' work nonetheless. Both are able to make people feel at ease with the camera, which can be a difficult task at home or abroad.
The combination of these two photographic journeys is a touching reunion of close friends and a unique opportunity to examine radically different notions of the portrait. Although they differ in setting and subject, both parts of the collection capture people through the lens of a friend.
"Portraits" will show until March 31 at Edwynn Houk Gallery.
See a slideshow of the work below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.