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Black Borders

Portraits By Anthony Barboza

January–March 2018

Anthony Barboza, Norman Lewis - Artist, ​1976. Subject stands in the center of a square frame looking to the camera, his shadow tall behind him.

1. Anthony Barboza, Norman Lewis - Artist, 1976

Anthony Barboza, Romare Bearden - Artist, ​1976. Subject occupies the height of the square frame, hands in pockets, looking to the camera.

2. Anthony Barboza, Romare Bearden - Artist, 1976

Anthony Barboza, Benny Andrews – Artist, 1975. Subject stands in the center of the square frame facing left with hands on hips against a shiny fabric background.

3. Anthony Barboza, Benny Andrews – Artist, 1975

Anthony Barboza, James Van Der Zee - Photographer, 1980. Subject stands in the center of the square frame supported by two wooden canes against a shiny and textured backdrop.

4. Anthony Barboza, James Van Der Zee - Photographer, 1980

Anthony Barboza, Duane Michals - Photographer, ​1979. Subject stands in profile facing right in the center of the square frame with arms crossed.

5. Anthony Barboza, Duane Michals - Photographer, 1979

Anthony Barboza, Lisette Model - Photographer, ​1979. Subject stands right-center of the square frame with arms crossed. A black rectangle covers part of the white backdrop.

6. Anthony Barboza, Lisette Model - Photographer, 1979

Anthony Barboza, Gordon Parks - Photographer, ​1976. Subject stands right-center of square frame, hands in trenchcoat pockets, looking to the camera with a pipe in his mouth.

7. Anthony Barboza, Gordon Parks - Photographer, 1976

Anthony Barboza, Angelo Colon - Designer, ​1980. Subject leans towards center from the right of the square frame.

8. Anthony Barboza, Angelo Colon - Designer, 1980

Anthony Barboza, Sylvester - Musician, ​1980. Subject stands right-center of the square frame with one hand on hip, looking to the camera.

9. Anthony Barboza, Sylvester - Musician, 1980

Anthony Barboza, Debbie Allen - Dancer, ​1977. Subject stands in feathered skirt, back to camera, legs wide. Head is turned smiling to camera. Writing on white backdrop includes her name.

10. Anthony Barboza, Debbie Allen - Dancer, 1977

Anthony Barboza, Howard E. Rollins - Actor, ​1981. Subject stands in center of square frame with arms crossed, head tilted to the left. He wears a shiny jumpsuit.

11. Anthony Barboza, Howard E. Rollins - Actor, 1981

Anthony Barboza, Willi & Toukie Smith - Designer & Model, 1978. Subjects stand in center of square frame holding each other. Toukie stands with back to camera wearing a swimsuit. Willi faces left. Both have heads facing left.

12. Anthony Barboza, Willi & Toukie Smith - Designer & Model, 1978

Anthony Barboza, Toukie Smith - Model, ​1980/2017. Subject stands in center of frame, covering breasts with her hands and a shiny material around her hips.

13. Anthony Barboza, Toukie Smith - Model, 1980/2017

Anthony Barboza, Marvin Hagler - Boxer, ​1981. Subject stands in center of square frame, shirtless with arms crossed and looking to camera.

14. Anthony Barboza, Marvin Hagler - Boxer, 1981

Anthony Barboza, Amiri Baraka - Poet, 1976/2017. Subject stands to the right of the square frame with arms behind his back, looking to the camera. His shadow is cast to either side onto the backdrop.

15. Anthony Barboza, Amiri Baraka - Poet, 1976/2017

Anthony Barboza, Ed Bullins - Playwright, ​1980. Subject pictured at center of square frame, looking to camera. Cropping is head and shoulders only.

16. Anthony Barboza, Ed Bullins - Playwright, 1980

Anthony Barboza, James Baldwin - Author, ​1975. Subject stands to the left of square frame with his shadow cast to the right onto the backdrop.

17. Anthony Barboza, James Baldwin - Author, 1975

Anthony Barboza, Ntozake Shange - Poet, 1977. Subject sits in center of frame with hands in lap, blurred with side-to-side motion.

18. Anthony Barboza, Ntozake Shange - Poet, 1977

Anthony Barboza, Derek Walcott - Poet, ​1977. Subject stands in center of square frame with arms crossed, multiple shadows cast onto backdrop.

19. Anthony Barboza, Derek Walcott - Poet, 1977

Anthony Barboza, Owen Dodson - Poet, ​1979. Subject's upper body is to the left of the square frame. His eyes are cast down.

20. Anthony Barboza, Owen Dodson - Poet, 1979

Anthony Barboza, Pharoah Sanders - Musician, ​1978. Subject stands in center of square frame, blurred with motion, holding a saxophone.

21. Anthony Barboza, Pharoah Sanders - Musician, 1978

Anthony Barboza, David Murray - Musician, ​1975. Subject's upper body is centered in the square frame, His eyes are closed and he holds a saxophone in front of his face.

22. Anthony Barboza, David Murray - Musician, 1975

Anthony Barboza, Betty Carter - Musician, ​1976. Subject sits right-center of the frame with shadow cast to the left onto the backdrop, smiling to the camera.

23. Anthony Barboza, Betty Carter - Musician, 1976

Anthony Barboza, World Saxophone Quartet - David Murray, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett, ​1977. Four men stand across the square frame holding saxophones to their mouths, shadows cast up against the backdrop.

24. Anthony Barboza, World Saxophone Quartet - David Murray, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett, 1977

Anthony Barboza, Leroy Jenkins - Musician, ​1978. Subject's upper body in right-center of square frame. He holds a violin in crossed arms.

25. Anthony Barboza, Leroy Jenkins - Musician, 1978

Anthony Barboza, Still I See Ya! The Voices 20 x 24 Polaroid, NYC, 1993/2017. Manipulated color photograph. Subject stands in center with a top hat covering his eyes, arms crossed in front of his chest and bound by thick chains.

26. Anthony Barboza, Still I See Ya! The Voices 20 x 24 Polaroid, NYC, 1993/2017

Anthony Barboza, Bloods, NYC 20 x 24 Polaroid, 1993/2017. Manipulated color photograph. Subject stands shirtless with arms crossed and eyes closed; bandages cover his chest and arms.

27. Anthony Barboza, Bloods, NYC 20 x 24 Polaroid, 1993/2017

Anthony Barboza, Voodoo Man, NYC 20 x 24 Polaroid, ​1993/2017. Manipulated color photograph. Subject's upper body in center of frame. His fingers are intertwined in front of his chest, Tape covers his eyes and mouth.

28. Anthony Barboza, Voodoo Man, NYC 20 x 24 Polaroid, 1993/2017

Anthony Barboza, Tongue! 20 x 24 Polaroid, NYC, ​1993/2017. Manipulated color photograph. Subject is shirtless and bound by thick ropes, sticking his tongue out.

29. Anthony Barboza, Tongue! 20 x 24 Polaroid, NYC, 1993/2017

Press Release

From 1963 to the present day, Anthony Barboza (b. 1944) has enjoyed a long career in photography. One of the most important African American photographers of his generation, Barboza has excelled at capturing his subjects both on the street and in the studio.


The artist began his informal training in New York City. In these early days of Barboza's interest in photography, the artist was introduced to The Kamoinge Workshop, now Kamoinge, Inc., a network of professional photographers addressing the under-representation of black photographers in the art world. Barboza is now president of the organization.


In his Black Borders portrait series, Barboza photographed artists of all forms. This includes poets, painters, athletes, musicians, and more. "I lit and painted the background according to how I felt about the person," Barboza told the New York Times in 2009, "You'll see my feelings in my photographs," he said. "It's also about me."


His experimentation with lighting and determination to capture emotion in his images are prevalent throughout this work. In an Oral History interview with the Smithsonian, Barboza discusses the importance of lighting in these photographs: “First, it started with lighting. Each person had a different type of lighting on their portrait.” The dramatic illumination and textured backgrounds create dramatic, high-contrast compositions.

There is a clear dialogue between photographer and subject in these portraits. The full-frame, square format prints quite literally display the black borders of the film used to capture these images. In his Oral History interview, Barboza explains, “when you put the black borders together, there's no end and no beginning. There's no line there. That meant that each one of these people would relate in some ways to the others and also relate to me... So it's about a blending together of all the art forms that meant something to me.”


The Black Borders project received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1980, which allowed the artist to self-publish the series as a book with poetry by Ntozake Shange and Steven Barboza.


Barboza's work is included in the permanent collections of such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Cornell University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, as well as private and corporate collections.


Anthony Barboza's dramatic portraits from this mid-career series showcase his technical skill and creative drive, on view at the Keith de Lellis Gallery through March 10, 2017.