"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Joan Baez

This 1962 portrait of Joan Baez (born 1941) by Russell Hoban, for a Time Magazine Cover, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Known as 'the queen of the folk singers' during the heyday of hootenannies folk music's version of a jam session Joan Baez had what a 1962 Time magazine cover story called a voice 'as clear as air in the autumn, a vibrant, strong, untrained and thrilling soprano.' She played the coffeehouse circuit before causing a sensation at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, and she soon became associated with such legendary folk groups as the Weavers and the Seeger family. Her first album of English and American ballads was a huge success and included her soon-­to-be classic renditions of 'Barbara Allen' and 'All My Trials.' By the mid-1960s Baez was associated with various political causes, most prominently the antiwar and civil rights movements." -- National Portrait Gallery
 Hoban 62

Chris Bell tells us this about Hoban's Time cover portrait.
"According to excerpts from the artist’s 1962 diary, Russell Hoban’s portrait of the folk singer and 1960s icon Joan Baez took 16 days from commission date to completion and delivery, and he spent around 10 of those days working on the portrait, with at least one all-nighter required to finish the job. Baez, sadly, was unimpressed. David Hajdu, in his book Positively Fourth Street (in which the painting isn’t reproduced), describes it as 'an eerie Goya-style oil that could have been a thought projection of Joan’s distorted self-image … she is repellent – a skeletal ghoul clinging to a guitar…' Apparently Baez thought she looked 'dreadful', but the portrait perfectly captures the spirit of the times, and she doesn’t need the caption to be instantly recognized."

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