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Liberty: Photographs by Ruffin Cooper

DATES June 26, 1986 through September 08, 1986
  • June 26, 1986 BROOKLYN, N.Y.--The Brooklyn Museum will celebrate the Statue of Liberty centennial with the exhibition Liberty: Photographs by Ruffin Cooper on view in the Grand Lobby from June 26 to September 8, 1986.

    The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a pair of composite transparencies descending from the lobby ceiling in ten-foot sections to form two images, one 20 by 32 feet and the other 20 by 20 feet. One of the images looks down on “The Lady in the Harbor” from the vantage point of a helicopter, showing the head of Liberty captured in the web of scaffolding erected during the statue’s restoration. The other image is of the statue in silhouette against the fiery sky of a setting sun, the figure again enmeshed in the scaffolding. As one approaches the two transparencies, they will seem to dissolve into splashes of color, revealing behind them, on the Lobby’s rear wall, ten large photographs.

    Measuring 34 by 48 inches apiece, these photographs are a loving exploration of the statue from the base of its pedestal to the tip of its torch. They demonstrate all the wit and drama of Cooper’s best work, appropriating a familiar image with a ferocious energy that makes us look on it afresh.

    Ruffin Cooper, a San Francisco photographer who has exhibited widely in the U.S. and Europe, has often used photography to look at well-known American icons from a new perspective, isolating important details and enlarging them to monumental scale. “When we speak of American icons,” he says, “the Statue of Liberty is the grandest and most beloved of them all. I first photographed her in detail in 1979 at very close range, having no idea that she was soon to become the focus of a great restoration campaign. At the time I only thought Liberty was one of the most incredible sculptures I had ever seen.”

    The exhibition is made possible, in part, by a gift from Lynn and Larry Schafran of New York City. The funding for transparencies, film processing, hardware, handling, and packing was provided by Frank Bonfiglio of Imperial Color Labs, Inc., San Francisco.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1986, 066.
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