On guard: watching the watchers at the art museum
While wandering around the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, San Francisco-based photographer Andy Freeberg was struck by the museum’s guards, who in Russia tend to be middle-aged women.
His fascination deepened when he observed how the complimentary colours and shapes between guard and painting meant the women became a crucial part of viewing the artworks. “A lot of them were retired professionals and they all seemed to enjoy their jobs. They were very proud of the artwork they were guarding,” he said.
Freeberg, who has photographed the likes of Michael Jackson, Bill Gates and Neil Young for publications such as Rolling Stone and Time, set out to capture them on camera, travelling back and forth between Russia to create Guardians, an exhibition now on show at Andre Meislin gallery, New York. “At first the pictures were candid shots,” he says. “Later on, the guards were aware that I was taking their photo but I just told them to pretend I wasn’t there.”
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