"Portraits of Power" reminds us in an election year that power is fleeting. The success of it was unlikely when a New Yorker magazine staff photographer proposed the idea: Photograph the world's leaders individually when they all gathered for a United Nations General Assembly meeting in 2009. But, if he could pull it off, the results would be dazzling.
Platon Antoniou, known as Platon, did succeed, mostly. He rigged up a small studio just off the stage and nabbed the leaders coming and going for a few minutes.
As straightforward as they are — very much like high-end mug shots — the individuality of each person is remarkable. Some ooze power as you see in these portraits of then Russian premier Vladimir Putin (left) and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (above), president of Somalia. Life has changed for many of them: Putin is now Russia's president; Silvio Berlusconi, who smiles impishly into the camera, is no longer Italian prime minister, and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who surprised the photographer by agreeing to sit for him, is dead. (And his photograph is creepy.) President Barack Obama declined, by the way.
See the group at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, 400 N Ashley Drive, Tampa, through Nov. 11. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with extended hours to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Suggested donation $10. (813) 221-2222 or fmopa.org.
Lennie Bennett, Times art critic