Monday, July 21, 2008


Welcome to any newcomers to our blog who have arrived by virtue of Diane Heilenman's piece. I am still slightly crossed eyed from reading the article and having a hard time understanding exactly what her objection is to our exercising our artistic freedom to create portraiture of our 16th president. Ms. Heilenman states that we have "misplaced truth in history and missed the line between history and art". What we actually did is simpler than that. We made some pictures of Abraham Lincoln! We made them the best we could and as believable as we could. We did them with the most sincere affection for our fallen president and made no claim that they were historical artifacts from the 19th century. We would not claim that because we are proud of the work and put a great deal of effort into it.
Ms. Heilenman has no problem with Marcel Duchamp drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa. To her, that is funny. To her, that is art. We could have drawn a moustache on a Matthew Brady photograph of Lincoln. Would that still be funny? Would that magically turn it into art? The famous portrait of Washington crossing the Delaware should never have been created? What is the difference? Oh, I get it: it looks like a painting and ours looks like a photograph! So paintings should look like paintings and photographs should look like photographs. Bring out the handcuffs. We are now to be reenslaved, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Enough of jousting. I hope you like the pictures we are creating of Abraham Lincoln. They are meant to show Lincoln in human situations for which there are no other extant depictions, e.g. Lincoln at table, Lincoln descending a staircase, Lincoln mourning a child. We are not illustrating history, but common human experience which unites people of today with our historical heroes.


jody said...

I think the point Ms. Heilenman herself missed is that these images can disturb in the same way that waxwork figures can disturb: when confronted with a hyper-accurate representation of a person, we're not just looking at an attempted representation but something intended to present a new even better reality all together (what some art critics might call hyperreality, but using that term here doesn't quite work).

Art doesn't often make that sort of claim to reality, and it's this that makes walking through a wax museum very different (for some people) than walking through an art museum.

But, in the end, the "art" label is splitting hairs. To some it will be art, to others it won't be. To some this is tacky photoshopping of a national hero, to others it will be a new and reverential technique to honor the same.

Bill Whittle said...

I do not know who this Ms. Heilenman, nor do I (and the vast majority of Americans) particularly care.

What you are doing here is opening a window into the past -- nothing less. Using the strictest scientific methods you have combined science and art to generate something like new history: a remarkable achievement in and of itsself, but for those of us who love Lincoln with reverence approaching awe you have given us a new look at this greatest American.

I do have one criticism of your work: there is not nearly enough of it. The time you spend responding to puerile art critics is time you lose re-creating those moments that seemed lost forever. How many priceless glass plates of Lincoln (and all the others) faded away into transparency when they were turned en masse into panes for common greenhouses following the Civil War?

GO GET THOSE IMAGES BACK! You deserve nothing but renown and gratitude. Bravo!

LincolnFan said...

Heilenman is a twit who can't distinguish art from her [Fill in the Blank].

Completely disregard her baseless article and carry on. Great work!

MildMan said...

Whats the fuss? I see nicely done photographs that are clearly not originals. Nice job, but who cares?

canngil said...

I just found your work on the internet, and it is amazing. I am a Lincoln geek from way back, and I am thrilled to see him in a new light. Your work is based on historical images, so tell the critics to chill! To see Lincoln smile, to see his face animated, those are the dreams of real Lincoln fans. As a librarian, it does not bother me a bit to see the original materials manipulated in this way. Congratulations for making Lincoln more real and "relevant" to the kids of our time.

Anonymous said...

I think what you have done is fantastic. It is obvious that there was reverence and honor given to your creation. I'm looking forward to seeing the front face of Jesus from the Shroud of Turin. Oh yes, maybe this is all to simple for Ms. Heilenman to digest. Please keep up your fantastic work, history needs to come alive. Thank you