Yousuf Karsh, Winston Churchill, 1941, silver gelatin print, Gift of the Estate of David P. Hauseman, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2013.3.1 © The Estate of Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh, Winston Churchill

During his long career, Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) photographed the most prominent figures of the day, but Karsh was not the greatest portrait photographer of his time simply because of his access to these famous people. It was his command of his craft that enabled him to convert images of these people into works of art.

His first great portrait, Winston Churchill, contains within it two key components that made Karsh's photographs great artworks: an intimate sense of what his subject represents and a clear idea of the composition best suited to communicate that representation. This photo was taken on December 30, 1941 after Churchill gave a speech to the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa. Karsh was invited by the Canadian government to take this portrait, and he knew he would have very little time to make the picture. He began by researching Churchill, taking notes on all of the prime minister's habits, quirks, and tendencies. When he finally got Churchill seated in the chair, he was only given two minutes to complete the shot. The truth was that Churchill was frustrated that he had not been told he was to be photographed. Churchill lit a fresh cigar, and Karsh, noting that the smoke would ruin the picture, asked Churchill to remove the cigar. To this, the prime minister refused. But just as Karsh was about to take the picture, he quickly walked over and plucked the cigar out of Churchill's mouth! This explains the irritated look on the prime minister's face in the portrait. After the picture was taken, Churchill commented that Karsh could "make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed."

Louviere + Vanessa, Dejamé Morir Mirando a Ti (Let Me Die Looking at You)

Vanessa Brown and Jeff Louviere (known collectively as Louviere + Vanessa) are creative partners working to expand the experimental properties of photography. From their home and studio in New Orleans, they constantly strive to push the bounds of image making and reinterpret traditional ideas of photography; using such alternative materials as gold leaf and Super 8mm film, Louviere + Vanessa succeed in breaking with convention. Their surreal subjects emerge from a sense of literary romanticism and tragedy and often include satirical undertones.

This piece is from the Instinct/Extinct series. There is a theory that humans have lost their instincts, and that the closest thing that we inherit are drives: eros (or desire) and destruction. This series was created using both. The artists created images that give the feeling of hallucinations, and leave interpretation up to the audience; the viewer's understanding of each piece depends on his or her own desires and memories. The photos have all also been deconstructed, some in execution, some in concept, some temporally, and some spatially.

Louviere + Vanessa, Dejamé Morir Mirando a Ti (Let Me Die Looking at You), 2013, Inkjet on Kozo paper, gold leaf, resin on dibond, Gift of Louviere + Vanessa, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2013.1 © Louviere + Vanessa

Russell Young, Marilyn Glamour

Russell Young grew up in Northern England and studied photography and graphic arts at Chester Art College. After working years in the entertainment industry photographing celebrities and directing music videos, Young retreated to the studio to focus on more personal creative pursuits. He emerged on the art scene in 2007 with Pig Portraits, a series of large screen printed mugshots of celebrities. Young has since developed several other series of prints and paintings including Rebel Rebel, Dirty Pretty Things, American Envy, Dreamland and others.

Young divides his time between the California coast and Brooklyn, NY. His work has been shown around the world and can be found in numerous private collections, including those of Balthazar Getty, Barack Obama, Brad Pitt, Kate Moss, David Hockney and the Marilyn Monroe Estate.

Russell Young, Marilyn Glamour, 2010, Screenprint with acrylic paint and diamond dust on linen, Purchased and framed through the Art Resource Trust, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2013.6.2 © Russell Young

David David Figueroa, Internal Surfaces, 2012, Wood (canoe) and steel, 2012 Mayfaire Purchase Award, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2012.3 © David David Figueroa

David David Figueroa, Internal Surfaces

David was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the School of Fine Arts in San Juan, Puerto Rico with a BA in Fine Arts with a major in Sculpture. As a student he won several important awards and grants and was able to exhibit his work in one of the most prominent Art Museums of the Caribbean, the Ponce Art Museum. He also exhibited and was represented by one of the most prominent galleries in Puerto Rico, Galleria Botello. In 2000, due to medical needs of his oldest son he decided to move to Florida; leaving behind everything he had accomplished in the arts world, along with all his tools and art. While getting established in Central Florida, and rebuilding his tool inventory and new body of work, he had the opportunity to learn the full process of bronze casting while working for a foundry and was able to make his own series of bronze sculptures. It was not until 2007 that he was able to start showing his sculptures in Florida. Since then he has participated in juried collectives and art festivals around the United States. His works can be found in several museum and college collections in Florida.

In this sculpture, Figueroa combines the fragility of organic matter with the more industrial and durable attributes of metal. The deteriorating dugout canoe, which acts as the wooden centerpiece, is supported and framed by steel. Figueroa uses the combination of these two different materials to imply a relationship between the organic and synthetic, the natural and the man-made. This sculpture may also be interpreted as a commentary on our shared and more vulnerable human history and how it is protected or impeded by industrialization or mass production.