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"Portraits Of The Artist's Mind"


Klaus Lucka’s Portraits of the Artist Go Deep

By KATE TAYLOR | May 13, 2008

portraits of the artist's mind
Photographer Klaus Lucka’s 2008 portrait captures the ‘many faces’ of playwright Tom Stoppard.

One evening two summers ago, the photographer Klaus Lucka set up his tripod on Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, intending to photograph the crowd of dancers gathered for Midsummer Night Swing. After a few minutes, a security guard approached and told him that he couldn’t shoot with a tripod without Lincoln Center’s permission. Frustrated but compliant, he packed up his equipment and went home.

That evening’s aborted mission has an unlikely result in an exhibit of photographs by Mr. Lucka, open at the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery at the Walter Reade Theater. After Mr. Lucka’s wife requested permission for him to shoot on the plaza, Mr. Lucka showed his work to a member of the public relations staff and, eventually, to the director of visual arts at Lincoln Center, Thomas Lollar, and the gallery director, Matthew Rankin. Mr. Lollar and Mr. Rankin run the List Art Program, which commissions posters and prints related to Lincoln Center programs. Mr. Lucka, who spent most of his career photographing celebrities for magazines and directing television commercials, showed them a recent series of photographs he had taken of the photographer Peter Beard. Mr. Lollar and Mr. Rankin asked Mr. Lucka to do a similar series on the varied artists who have worked at Lincoln Center.

The resulting photographs depict subjects such as the playwright Tom Stoppard and the puppeteer Basil Twist, captured in poses and settings intended to reflect their artistic origins and creative process. Han Feng, who designed the costumes for Anthony Minghella’s “Madama Butterfly” at the Metropolitan Opera, is shown in her studio, interacting with a mannequin wearing one of her first designs — a frothy but deconstructed white chiffon dress. The director Peter Sellars is shown in his roof garden in Culver City; one of the photographs also inserts images from his study, including his collection of Czech marionettes and Javanese shadow puppets. Many of the photographs are composites: The choreographer Mark Morris works quietly at his desk in his office, while nude dancers appear to cavort around him. A brightly colored photograph of the cast of the Big Apple Circus, seemingly all in the ring at once, is composed from around 60 or 70 individual images. The title of the show, “Portraits of the Artist’s Mind,” was the suggestion of one subject, the video artist Bill Viola.

Mr. Lucka photographed Mr. Stoppard at Miller’s Residence in London, a “luxury 18th-century style hotel” (according to its Web site) that is decorated lavishly with period furnishings. Several Mr. Stoppards appear in the photograph — standing up, sitting on different sides of a table. It is playfully titled “Meeting of the Mind.”

The photographs are for sale; however, only about a fourth of the prints can be sold at Lincoln Center, because other venues, including the Barbican Centre in London, and the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., have expressed interest in exhibiting the series.

Until May 31 (165 W. 65th St., between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, 212-875-5600).

UNTIL SATURDAY May 31 , 2008