Frederick Douglass, from Pictures of Ink, 2000
Silver dye bleach (Cibachrome) print
International Center of Photography
Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2003
The social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was the most photographed American man of the nineteenth century. Embracing the newly established medium of photography, Douglass forcefully counteracted racist stereotypes and embodied the commonality of humanity. His disseminated image became, and remains, iconic.
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is widely known for his recreations of historic images with the most unconventional materials—ketchup, dust, sugar, chocolate, etc.—which he then photographs. The resulting images force the viewer to interrogate their meaning and impact; in this case Muniz reinforces the power of Douglass’s achievement.