The woman, eyes closed, body tinged an earthen orange-red, gently caresses the breast of an attendant crow cradled in her hand. It is a tender image, for she and the (stuffed) bird appear in repose and adoration, content with one another’s company.
But for the classic art literate, there is something hauntingly familiar here, a shadow, a gossamer memory. Only upon reflection does one realize it is a living homage to Pablo Picasso’s “Woman with a Crow,” crafted toward the end of the artist’s “Blue Period.”
Titled “Nina/After Crow,” it is one in a series of portraits by Amy Arbus — she of a dynasty of photographers of both the odd and the everyday — that literally bring to life the works of some of the world’s most beloved painters.
The traveling exhibit and accompanying book, “After Images,” to be on display through May 24 at Mitchell•Giddings Fine Arts in Brattleboro, is both surreal and visceral, a loving tribute but also a commanding re-interpretation of classic portraiture.
“It was a very concentrated project,”said Arbus, who lives in New York City and partners most prominently with the Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown, which is collaborating with the Provincetown Art Association and Museum to present the exhibition at PAAM this fall.