Over the years, Beard has observed the once-colonial, tribal population of just fewer than five million, from his first visit in 1955, explode into today's resource-draining population of 30 million.
He has also documented the diminishing pockets of animal habitat he once thought impenetrable, including the relentless demise of 35,000 elephants and 5,000 black rhinos in the first two of a number of books about his African experience: The End of the Game in 1965 and 1977.
Leni Riefenstahl's 3 Dancers
AfricaThrough March 21Wolfgang Roth & Partners Fine Art201 NE 39th St., Miami305-576-6960wrpfineart.comTuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
One of the most arresting works on display at the gallery is Beard's Tsavo North on the Athi Tiva (1965).
The large gelatin silver print features an extreme closeup of a bull elephant raising its tusks. To the right of the majestic beast, a series of smaller photos depicts a rhino charging a man. Ironically, Beard himself survived being gored and trampled by an elephant in 1996.
Hands down, the most breathtaking works exhibited here are Reifensthal's pictures of the mysterious Nuba tribe.
From 1962 until 1977, Riefenstahl became the first white woman to live among the tribe, with special permission from the Sudanese government. She studied their way of life and recorded it on film. The images are haunting and unforgettable. Her two international best-selling books about the Nuba, published in the early 1970s, captured a people whose customs were being threatened by the inexorable advance of civilization.
Riefenstahl, who had long been discredited as a Hitler-besotted Nazi propagandist for her films extolling the grandeur of the Third Reich, earned a measure of rehabilitation for her work with the Nuba.
At Roth & Partners, it's difficult to ignore that even though Riefenstahl — whose Nazi epics, Triumph of the Will and Olympia, are still considered the best movies ever helmed by a female director — might have been a political idiot, she sure was a great artist.
It's also hard to deny that Wolfgang Roth has delivered a daring show that offers plenty to debate about.