Berkshire Museum

Pittsfield, MA



Portraits of Seiji Ozawa & Other Photographs by Lincoln Russell

July 8 - September 5, 1999


"Portraits of Seiji Ozawa and Other Photographs by Lincoln Russell" will open at the Berkshire Museum on July 8 and remain on view through September 5, 1999. Presenting contrasting portfolios of his work, Russell documents the brilliant personality of Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa and explores movement and scale in a collection of panoramic views of sumptuous landscapes, nudes, and interiors.


Lincoln Russell

Lincoln Russell was born in Boston in 1951. He grew up in the suburbs, principally in Sudbury, and moved to Boston after high school, living there for the next twenty years. Ten years ago he moved to Stockbridge, where he lives today with his wife, Nancy Fitzpatrick.

It was in 1968 that Russell began photographing. A freelance photographer for more than 20 years, he worked for many well-known clients in a variety of fields including advertising, architecture, political campaigns, portraiture and public relations. His solo and group works have been exhibited at the following:

Russell describes his beginnings as a photographer, "as a way to witness and experience interesting and distinguished people, places, and events."

Early in his career, 1970 to be exact, Russell first heard Seiji Ozawa live when he conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the symphony's summer home in Lenox, MA. Eight years later, Lincoln's panoramic photograph of Tanglewood was selected for the cover of two million printed Tanglewood schedules. This uncommissioned work, procured by the BSO, inaugurated Russell's close professional relationship with the symphony and its music director, Seiji Ozawa. In 1979, Russell received his first assignment from the BSO, "The BSO Tour; Getting the Show on the Road," written by Caroline Hessberg on her first assignment with the orchestra as well.

Twelve international tours and twenty years later, Russell's documentation of Ozawa celebrates in photos the life and personality that the public would never have the opportunity to see.


Portraits of Seiji Ozawa

Seiji Ozawa was born in Shenyang China in 1935 and began his association with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood music center in 1960. In 1973, at the age of only thirty-eight, he was appointed music director. It is under Ozawa's leadership that the orchestra has strengthened its international reputation and commitment to new music. Maestro Ozawa has appeared with the world's greatest orchestras and, most notably, led choruses on five separate continents at the same time in Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" at the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.

(left: Lincoln Russell, Seiji Ozawa)

It was in that same year that Seiji Ozawa celebrated his 25th year with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, making him the longest-tenured conductor in the symphony's history. To mark this extraordinary accomplishment, Houghton Mifflin published a photographic tribute to Ozawa - Seiji: An Intimate Portrait of Seiji Ozawa, with photographs by Lincoln Russell.

"When I saw the book last Fall, I thought how fabulous it would be to mount an exhibition of these works," said Museum Director Sharon Blume. "Since the Museum hosts the Tanglewood Lecture Series every summer, it seemed Like a perfect match."

"Portraits of Seiji Ozawa and Other Photographs by Lincoln Russell" captures Ozawa in a way that only BSO insiders have known. It is in one photograph that the essence of a subject can be preserved in a way that words can never duplicate. Lincoln Russell has recorded the kind of photographic history of Ozawa that could only be achieved by a person who has intimate access to this world-renowned maestro.

Known as "The BSO Photographer" and sometimes the "Honorary 102nd member of the BSO," Lincoln was allowed entry to Ozawa in some of the most challenging circumstances of the conductor's musical and personal life. Just as Seiji is fabulous to listen to, he is equally so to watch.

At rehearsal, in concert, or with colleagues and family, Ozawa exudes a combination of humor, intellect, and drive. Pictured with him in this series of platinum and silver prints are such artistic luminaries as Rudolph Serkin, John Williams,.Yo-Yo Ma, and Itzhak Perlman.

At the entrance of the exhibition hangs an exuberant ten by four-foot panorama of the lawn and Shed at Tanglewood, shot on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1978; the same photo that marked the turning point in Russell's career.


Panoramas by Lincoln Russell

During the late 1970s Russell first used a wide-angle lens camera when he documented remarkable street scenes. The wide-angle lens enabled him to record crowded events in single takes. Rock of Ages, Sword Swallower, Park Street, Boston MA, 1979, revealed the gritty world of street entertainers when he situated his camera, and the view, among onlookers before a three-card monte game and the act of a sword swallower.

In a group of color murals dating from 1980, Russell turned from the documentary approach of his first panoramas to experiments with motion, optical distortion, and the element of time.

Large-format panoramic views of urban scenes and amusement parks reveal his fascination with movement and scale. The works illustrate the principle that if the camera lens pans in the same direction as the subject, the subject becomes elongated. County Fair, a seven by three-foot photomural shot in Maine, 1979, explores the effects of moving objects on the photographer's moving lens.

Using a slit-scan rotating camera lens that takes up to 120 seconds to pan across a 146 degree angle-of-view, the resulting photographic language, which Russell has explored for more than twenty years, is unique to these cameras. Elements within each photograph occur consecutively, not concurrently so the images that result never actually appeared as a whole in the viewfinder.

Unlike Russell's description of his beginnings as a photographer, today reportage is no longer his goal. "I'm trying to make evocative photographs, images that I'd like to look at - on the wall in a book -- and I'm no longer using the photographic process as the means of getting to interesting places."

In further departure from reportage are Russell's recent 5 x 12 inch platinum prints in which he appears in the company of nude women in staged settings. In these five works the photographic frame becomes the stage and the photographer and his models, the actors. The overall effect is that of a series of enigmatic film stills.

Sarah's Room No. I, Stockbridge, 1997, is a dreamlike work where motion is introduced during the course of long exposure. A nude model on the bed waves her arms, causing them to dissolve into wispy, smoke-like forms. A similar effect is achieved in Goose Pond No. I, Tyringham, 1997, as Russell moves the camera while it rotates, producing undulations in the nude's limbs as well as the water in the landscape.

An exhibition catalogue accompanies "Portraits of Seiji Ozawa and Other Photographs by Lincoln Russell," printed by Stinehour Press. All of the photographs in the exhibition will be reproduced in tri-tones, due-tones and four color. Essays have been written by John Stevenson, Director of the Platinum Gallery in New York City and James Ganz, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Generous support for "Portraits of Seiji Ozawa and Other Photographs by Lincoln Russell" has been provided by Joyce S. Bernstein and Lawrence M. Rosenthal, Jan Brett and
Joseph Hearne, Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick, P.H.B. Frelinghuysen, Ed and Lola Jaffe, Bill and Barbara Leith, Thomas and Carol McCann, Mrs. Merl L. Rouse, and Arlene and Aso O.Tavitian.

Read more about the Berkshire Museum in the Resource Library

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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