Marina Abramovic used to have a recurring dream of arriving at a party in a house in the forest. The last time she had it, everyone at the party had gotten very old and had gray hair. In almost every dream Shirin Neshat has, her mother makes an appearance. FKA twigs dreams a lot about murders. Tracey Emin once had a nightmare that a woman was trying to steal her necklace; when she woke up, her neck physically hurt. Carrie Mae Weems used to have one about trying to get home so she could work in the fields with her family. She doesn’t have it anymore.
These are just a handful of the revelations you’ll find in Portrait of an Artist: Conversations with Trailblazing Creative Women by Hugo Huerta Marin, a collection of candid portraits and interviews with some of the most influential artists of our time. Their conversations range from the anecdotal to the philosophical, the political to the personal. While the questions vary depending on the artist, Huerta Marin tossed in an array of revealing questions you’re unlikely to find asked anywhere else–including my favorite about recurring dreams. Following these discussions, he photographed the artists.
Huerta Marin began work as the art director at Abramovic’s studio in 2014, and the idea for the book was born on a summer’s night in upstate New York. Over the next seven years, he’d meet with female artists who left an indelible impression on the history of photography, film, painting, fashion, music, performance art, and more. He spoke with 25 such icons, capturing Polaroid portraits in the process.
The interviews and photoshoots took place on the artists’ home turf, inside their studios, homes, theaters, galleries, or anywhere else they felt comfortable. The instant portraits are candid and spontaneous; in one, Abramovic knits. In another, Cate Blanchett peers out at us from a mass of tousled hair. Weems stares right at the camera, mid-gesture. Miuccia Prada has a cup of coffee, and Anjelica Huston picks up a fluffy dog. Shirin Neshat sorts a bouquet of carnations.
Each artist, as we learn, has a different understanding of beauty. Diane von Fürstenberg finds beauty in nature, and Agnès Varda finds it in everyday life. Abramovic says beauty can be ugly, and FKA twigs says beauty can be found in the awkwardness of a transition, change, or evolution. When asked about her concept of beauty, Weems says simply, “Well …You” before continuing, “I find the world amazing, so it is not confined to anything. It’s simply a condition. Beauty is a condition of living.”
Portrait of an Artist: Conversations with Trailblazing Creative Women is published by Prestel. Get your copy here.