The Black List Project encompasses the photographs on view in this exhibition, a companion book, and a documentary film. The foundation for The Black List Project was laid in May 2005, when photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders suggested to public radio commentator and film critic Elvis Mitchell that they create a book on African American culture. Deriving its name from the 1950s Communist hunt led by the late U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy, the project plays on various connotations of the word black through the experiences of its notable list of subjects.
This exhibition presents twenty-five large-format portraits taken by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. The sitters come from the worlds of politics, the arts, sports, religion, and business. The photographs were taken in the artist’s New York studio, as well as in rented studios in Los Angeles; a hotel conference room in Washington, D.C.; and a movie theater lobby outside of Philadelphia. The exhibition also includes monitors showing excerpts from The Black List: Volume One, an HBO 90-minute documentary film that features interviews with twenty-two influential and inspiring African Americans.
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (American, born 1952), a photographer and filmmaker, is best known for his intimate portraits of world leaders and major cultural figures and his documentary about the musician Lou Reed, which won a Grammy Award in 1998. Greenfield-Sanders’s film and photography career started in the mid-1970s when he attended the American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles and began photographing visiting dignitaries for the school, including Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis, and Ingmar Bergman.
In 1979, Greenfield-Sanders moved to New York City and began to photograph the art world. Twenty years later, he exhibited 700 portraits of artists, dealers, critics, collectors, and curators. Full sets of all 700 of these images are now in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. To date, fifteen books and catalogues have been published on Greenfield-Sanders’s portraiture.
Elvis Mitchell (American, born 1958), host of the nationally syndicated public radio program The Treatment, is the entertainment critic for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. Mitchell has served as film critic for the New York Times; the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, at which he won the 1999 AASFE Award for criticism; the Detroit Free Press; LA Weekly; and California magazine. In 1993, Mitchell was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for his contributions to the AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to Sidney Poitier.
Mitchell is a visiting lecturer on African and African American studies and on visual and environmental studies at Harvard University. He hosted the Independent Focus interview program on the Independent Film Channel, was editor-at-large for Spin magazine, and has also written for Interview, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine. He is currently editor-atlarge at Interview magazine.