Timothy Greenfield-Sanders is no stranger to crafting portraits. His are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Whitney Museum.
Vanity Fair also avails itself of Greenfield-Sanders' talents as a photographer and there are several books celebrating his work including Art World, XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits and Face to Face.
He recently turned his eye to film, producing and directing five documentaries including
Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart
The Black List
, one of his most successful projects to date, is a series of documentaries for HBO that explore the contributions and impact that black culture has had in America.
Now he gives Hispanics a voice with his new project, The Latino List, in which he interviews prominent Latinos - from Sonia Sotomayor to Miami's own Pitbull. We had the chance to chat with Greenfield-Sanders about what it means to have Andy Warhol as a role model. Follow the jump for our Q&A.
Many artists tend to cross pollinate. Do you think an artist is an artist is an artist?
My role model has always been Andy Warhol, who gave artists "permission" to break out of categories. He was a painter, a filmmaker, a publisher, a fashion model, a sculptor, a writer... he did it all and broke the mold that pigeonholed artists into just one artistic field. I've always loved film...I have an MFA in film from the American Film Institute...so it wasn't a giant leap for me when after years of taking portraits, I made my first doc, "Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart". What I have done that's special here and very rewarding to me is the combination of directing the films, producing them and taking portraits of all of the subjects.
Why documentaries? Do you think you'll ever make a fictional film?
I love documentaries. I don't have a desire to make narrative films... my younger daughter, Liliana Greenfield-Sanders does...so I'll leave that to her.
What do docs like The Black List and The Latino List add to our social tapestry?
Documentaries like "The Black List" and "The Latino List" expose all of us to achievement and great accomplishment in areas that we to be less aware of. We all know the success stories of Barack Obama and Oprah and perhaps Sonia Sotomayor, but we don't know enough about people like Toni Morrison, or Cesar Conde, or Ralph de la Vega, or Marta Morena Vega, or Julie Stav.
Having lived in Miami, you must be somewhat familiar with Latinos and Latino culture. How do you think the Latino population has impacted South Florida?
I left Miami in 1970 when I graduated from Ransom School (before it was called Ransom Everglades!). I moved to New York and got my degree from Columbia University, so my Miami perspective is antique, to say the least. But I still have family in Miami and I still love the city. Miami is an ever-changing city and if you read its history, always has been. The Latino influence is just the latest "change." It has been enormous and it has brought great vitality to South Florida. I was going to say it made Miami sexy, but Miami was always sexy!