By LENNIE BENNETT
Times Art Critic
“Portraits of Power" is a compelling exhibition at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, with close-ups of most of the world leaders taken by Platon during an intense five-day period in September 2009 when they gathered at the United Nations in New York. He will be at the museum, 400 N Ashley Drive, Tampa, for a lecture on Saturday at 11 a.m. to talk about this project.
Platon, whose full name is Platon Antoniou, is right up there with Annie Leibovitz as a world-class portrait photographer. He has been commissioned by many major publications, including Vanity Fair and the New York Times, but this gig, as the staff photographer for New Yorker magazine, was his most ambitious. It involved months of negotiations and then, when he got the go-ahead, only minutes with each individual in a makeshift studio near the stage where each was headed for a speech. Though the photographs are straightforward, the personalities that emerge from them feel collectively like a massive power hug.
The show is perhaps even more powerful now than when it was unveiled several years ago. Moammar Ghadafi of Libya is dead; Silvio Berlusconi of Italy was voted out of office, and President Barack Obama's future as a second-term president has yet to be decided, so their images are a kind of memento mori reminding us that power can be fleeting.
Platon has become a sought-after speaker, appearing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Yale University, the London School of Economics, the National Portrait Gallery in London and the International Center of Photography in New York.
The lecture is $10 and includes museum admission. Reservations aren't being taken, so plan to come early. 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. (813) 221-2222 or fmopa.org.