Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge • Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (via Huffington Post)

Friday, 6 November 2015

“Despite his fervor, [Frederick] Douglass believed that photographs were necessarily ‘conservative,’ because they incorporated celebrity, turning ‘the author’ into a commodity with a reputation that could be difficult to change. In the photographic age, every person who ‘publishes a book, or peddles a patent medicine,’ he argued, whether ‘handsome or homely, manly or mean,’ was using a portrait in their advertisements. Such images, though, transformed the individual into a ‘fixed fact,’ or a ‘public property,’ so that audiences, readers, and consumers would come to expect every detail of the portrait to be unchanged forever. Public figures had to wrestle with the way that their scripted, staged image could sometimes take on a life of its own.” Matthew Pratt Guteri • New Republic