Anthony Barboza, born in New Bedford Massachusetts in 1944, is an accomplished and world-renowned African American photographer and historian, who is an equally gifted and recognized artist, painter, and writer. With roots originating from Cape Verde, and work that began in commercial art over forty years ago, Barboza’s artistic talents and successful career helped him to cross over and pursue his passions in the fine arts where he continues to make important contributions to the American art scene.
His prolific and wide range of both traditional and innovative African American thought inspired works have been exhibited in public and private galleries, and prestigious museums and educational institutions worldwide. Barboza’s special fondness for jazz music and musicians is reflected in a large portion of his work done both professionally and artistically in a span of around ten years between the late 70’s and 80’s. Barboza’s creative talents are portrayed in his book, “Black Borders,” published in 1980 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In an article printed in 1984 in The City Sun, he said, “When I do a portrait, I’m doing a photograph of how that person feels to me; how I feel about the person, not how they look. I find that in order for the portraits to work, they have to make a mental connection as well as an emotional one. When they do that, I know I have it.”
His work is innovative and unique because he has a very special interpretive technique that synthesizes individual elements to transform his photography into the realm of art. He accomplishes this through the careful use of lighting and shadows, artistic manipulation of the backdrop, shutter speed to create movement, composition, and many other techniques and mediums at his command. He may also have other individual ideas that are unique to that subject in that moment in time, and are conceptually based to interpret his subject in a meaningful way. It is here where the music is transformed into a realm of being seen, felt, and brought to life in his signature photography.
His most recent innovative and contemporary photographic artwork, Black Dreams/White Sheets, has toured internationally and was shown for the first time in New York City at the Bill Hodges Gallery in November and December, 2010. Like many of his works, Barboza takes a critical look with an artist’s eye at the role and experiences of the African Diaspora in the context of race, sexuality, gender, politics, and social issues left to the interpretation of the viewer concerning American society and culture, past, present, and future. His photography takes on an innovative open narrative effect while at the same time he invites self reflection and dialogue with the viewer. This is done not to just interpret what he is saying, but to allow the viewer to question his or her own interpretations of the work.
Career | Barboza came to New York right after graduating high school in 1963 at the age of 19 to study photography with Hugh Bell, a successful Black fashion photographer who became his mentor and allowed Barboza to work for free in exchange for the opportunity to gain experience in the field. Prior to that, he met Adger Cowans, another of the few successful Black commercial photographers of the time, who would introduce Barboza to a group of Black professional photographers who were members of “The Kamoinge Workshop.” The main purpose of the group was to create a serious dialogue about photography at a time when African-American photographers were still being discriminated against and excluded from mainstream professional photography. They were professionals who joined forces to support and help promote each other’s work by offering group commentary and criticism, and they worked together to mount exhibitions. The group, originally directed by Roy De Carva, is currently headed by Barboza who is now President and continues the tradition of supporting other African American professional and aspiring photographers in their work.
In 1965, Barboza was drafted into the Navy and became a full-time photographer for their base newspaper located in Jacksonville, Florida. It was there that he developed his craft and launched his career in a one-man exhibition at the Pensacola Art Museum and the Emily Lowe Gallery at the University of Miami.
Photojournalism/Editorial Spreads | Barboza’s career skyrocketed upward and his work has appeared in photojournalist and editorial spreads for: The New Yorker, Newsweek, Business Week, TV Guide, National Geographic, Town and Country, Village Voice, Vibe, US, Vanity Fair, People, Esquire, GQ, Home, Elle (US, Canadian, French, and Spanish editions) Elle Decour, Vogue, McCalls, Interview, Details, Black Book, Harper’s Bazaar, Self, Glamour, Ms., Women’s Day, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Ebony, Black Enterprise, Geo (Germany), Art News, Washingtonian, Modern Maturity, Mode, Audobon, Redbook, Telegraph Mag (U.K.), The Sunday Times Mag. (U.K.) Forbes, Fortune, USA Weekend, Dance Magazine, and Life Magazine.
Advertising | Other work Barboza has done has been for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Motors, Kraft Foods, HBO, Kodak, Revlon, AT&T, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, SONY, Miramax Films, Burger King, Aetna Life Insurance, Arista Records, Nissan, Coors, Absolute Vodka, Reebok, Random House, Hanes, Clairol, Amtrak, Bahamas Tourist Board, Avon, Columbia Records, L’Oreal, and many more.
TV | He was a Co-Director for a TV commercial featuring his friend and famous jazz legend Miles Davis for Dentsu Adv. Japan