October 9, 2011

Bob Keyes: Madeleine de Sinety and the power of observation

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“Four Loaves”

Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

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“Christine and Collette – First Communion,” 1947. Madeleine de Sinety has spent many years photographing the people and landscape of the Brittany region of France. Also in “Madeleine de Sinety: Photographs” at the Portland Museum of Art are images she captured in Uganda and in rural Maine.

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WHEN: Through Dec. 18

WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square

ADMISSION: $10; $8 seniors and students; $4 ages 6 to 17; free ages 5 and younger; free for all 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays

INFO: 775-6148; portlandmuseum.org

LECTURE: Photographer William Wegman will discuss de Sinety's work, as well as his own, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the museum auditorium. Admission is $25 ($5 for students). Proceeds benefit the museum's Photography Fund.

Susan Danly, curator of photographs at the Portland museum, said the link among the work from France, Uganda and Maine is de Sinety's keen eye. She appreciates people who live in rural areas and are not afraid of hard labor. The work rings true because of its authenticity, Danly said.

De Sinety was born to French parents and grew up on a chateau and a plantation. She lived and worked in Paris as a young woman, later marrying an American writer. She came to the U.S. in 1980, and has lived in Rangeley for 30 years.

When not making photographs, de Sinety supported herself as a wedding photographer. She elevated wedding photography in a form of high art. A major wedding magazine once named her the best wedding photographer in the United States.

Wegman won't compare his own work to that of his friend.

"I do not have what she has," he said. "I do not wander around the earth looking for something that is interesting. I am constructing a photograph rather than finding something innately true or amazing, which is what Madeleine does. We are at opposite ends. We are not in each other's territory.

"She has a rare eye. She is like a great athlete that comes around every once in a while."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:


Twitter: pphbkeyes


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