Nathan Farb’s Faces of the Cold War

Nathan Farb, image from "Russians"

Through Sept. 25, the Wende Museum is presenting “Face to Face,” an installation of Cold War portraits in photography and painting. It includes prints from Nathan Farb’s legendary series and book Russians. In 1975 Farb accompanied his friend Diane Arbus to a show of American photography in the Soviet Union. While there he took Polaroids of Soviet citizens and handed them out—the Soviet government would not have allowed him to take home any photos. But Farb had rigged his camera so that it also took negatives; these were smuggled back to New York in a diplomatic pouch. Explained Farb: “I felt I was doing something that could possibly help reduce the fear between Russia and the US. People were afraid a nuclear war was going to break out. It was the same type of fear many have with the Islamic world now. I think my photos helped to reduce that fear, because it showed that the Russians were normal people as well.”

Nathan Fard, image from "Russians"

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