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Animal Portraits: Seeing Ourselves in Others Paperback – May 22, 2014
About the Author
*1941 in Mayen, Germany
Taught architecture and computer-aided design at German and American Universities.
Lives in Northford, CT
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Ulrich has a unique manner of capturing photographs of animals. Rather than the zoologist's emphasis on animal characteristics and details, he is more interested in how humans respond and interact with animal images. `I try to take animal pictures that elicit an emotional response', he sates. `The key here is that the photo becomes the portrait of an individual-- the subject appears no longer as the representative of a species, but as an individual the photographer met at a particular place and time. As such, it is able to engage us emotionally, from individual to individual so to speak. Our reaction may be amusement, or empathy, or even fear; whatever it is, the image does not leave us cold. It may remind us of a person we know, or of a portrait we have seen, or of a feeling we seem to share with an animal that appears to gaze pensively into the distance or holds our attention by directing its steady gaze upon us.'
What follows is a portfolio of images of the animal family - from invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, birds and mammals. He opens his tongue in cheek survey with a reproduction of Gainsborough's `Blue Boy' with the title `Here's Looking at You, Kid' followed by a very similar stare from a lemur and a Tiger Moth and then shares some of the finest images of birds with attitude this viewer has ever encountered. Each is named and the locations given (most all are in his home of Northcutt, CT) and then he progresses with wonderful images of dogs, frogs, chipmunks, prairie dogs, parrots, great fish (images he took in the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT), otters, penguins, goat, pigeon, horses, a glorious vain peacock, seal, bear, giraffe, whale, and gorilla. This is followed by a section (announced by a reproduction of a Rembrandt Self Portrait) called `Close-Ups' and again we are treated to splendid close-ups of yellow jackets, bees, snails, butterflies, fox, squirrel, bearded dragon, guineafowl, ocelot, crocodile, hippos and more. Then with a reproduction of van Gogh's `Portrait of Dr. Gachet' we are shown a section called `A Penny for Your Thoughts' with cats, birds, dogs, owls, monkeys - all with the most expressive moments of interest off camera. `Pretty in Profile' (introduced by Sargent's `Portrait of Madame X') offers eloquent and at times entertaining of animal profiles. Finally, `Twosomes' (introduced by Grant Woods iconic `American Gothic') includes pairs of animals - mothers and babies, fond couples of wolves, otters and snakes, and of course domestic cats. At book's end the author provides categories and names for each animal portrait - excellent learning.
The locales of the images are widespread and all credited by the artist. For a book of few words, there are more stories contained in the images than most writers could place in a long novel. Ulrich Flemming has provided a fresh way to enjoy the pleasures of the animal world with great skill and copious amounts of sensitivity. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, November 14