Archives Catalog Entry
Portrait of Edwin H. Land (1909-1991)
Portrait of Edwin H. Land by famous American photographer Naomi Savage (1927-2005)
From a memo by G. J. Wasserburg:
The portrait of Edwin (Din) Land was taken by Naomi Savage, a distinguished American artist (Princeton). This was one of her prints that she used in preparing the Lauritsen Lecture poster, copies of which I think should already be in the Archives. During my second cycle as Chair of the Lauritsen Lecture committee, I decided to commission a poster to celebrate the occasion and to continue to try to bring art and science together. The Bethe portrait and poster was a previous effort. This, of course, caused Lee DuBridge to accost me in the Athenaeum and ask me "who was the scoundrel responsible for that terrible picture of Hans. Rose Bethe also did not like it and I was accused by some members of the committee-particularly Charles Barnes, for wasting the gift money. I had personally underwritten the costs in both cases. The young artist (Ted Arnold) who did the Bethe portrait lived with the Bethes for about a week. Arnold went on to a distinguished career as an artist.
When Land was selected by the committee, I sought a young artist to give the the commission to. We of course could not give much money. Land was a particularly difficult target-it had to be photographic of course. However, Land was rather demanding and it was not clear whether his giant Land camera had to be the photographic instrument. I found a young woman artist in Los Angeles and after some obvious difficulties facing the vetting by Land, she withdrew. At a loss, I told this to Mildred Goldberger who said-"I have a friend named Naomi Savage in Princeton who is a great artist." I, of course, being ignorant, did not know of Savage. With Mildred's encouragement, I approached Ms Savage and was delighted to have her accept the commission-subject of course to Land's vetting. She had done some part of the LBJ library panels in Austin and something in the Peace Park in Houston. She had exhibited widely and was, by the way, the niece of Man Ray. Land accepted her immediately and we were off. Ms Savage had complete freedom. She came up with the idea of a black and white image (no color!) except for the word "color" that was in the title-"What in the world is color."
Land was quite a guy. He wanted to be in charge of every detail. He would call me at very early hours (he was in Cambridge MA), 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. at home, usually when I was in the bathroom. In a series of calls he would ask is I knew his proper address, how to spell Roland, what was the order of the colors in "color", the sizes of the letters, and on and on. When the portrait was all done, it was immediately a real favorite of his and was used by the Polaroid Corp. and in brochures of the Roland Institute. The picture was taken from what was to be Land's office in the Roland (then under construction) looking toward Boston and the Bridge. It is still hung in the Roland Institute as of November 2002. The gasket around the window is still split away from its groove and the view is unchanged. The Roland Institute has now been deeded to Harvard University in 2002. The Land lecture held in Beckman was an enormous success. Land brought a whole troop of assistants and equipment to make a spectacular, interesting, and stimulating show. He was a very fine speaker and an exciting and pleasant guest.
MEDIUM: Photograph; FORMAT: Framed; QUANTITY: 1
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