Volume 1, Issue 3 Spring 2014

Florida Color

Photographs by Constantine Manos

The vision of Constantine Manos has been expressed both in black and white and in color, and through a variety of film and digital processes for more than 60 years. Characterized by dramatic compositions and a passion for the human detail, his most distinctive images show a passion for unyielding natural light wherever he finds it. From the spare and classic imagery of A Greek Portfolio (1972) to the southern sun-drenched saturated palette of American Color 2 (2010) Manos discovers and creates unexpectedly transcendent worlds.

Manos began photographing in Florida in 1975 and he continues to do so today. Attracted by the light, the weather, and the vibrant public life that light and weather make possible, he has long turned to the beaches and boulevards of Daytona Beach and Miami for his subjects. Manos shows us Florida as spectacle: a cacophonous cast of half-naked holiday makers, bikers, spring breakers, beauty queens, transvestites, happy drunks, and carny workers sharing space with the ill, old, lost, lonely, desperate, and homeless of the Sunshine State’s dark side. Blasted by light, often transformed into shadows thrown against a deep patina of old paint on weathered textured walls, these beautiful losers are saved by Manos’s admiration for them and their individual realities.

Manos’s Florida is not the slickly beautiful place of tourist brochures, nor is it a predictable photojournalist treatment of the state’s serious social problems. Rather it is a place of bright, brittle, and fleeting moments, like aspects of the state itself, to be appreciated for their own sakes. Like all photographs, this work shows us what has been and documents specific places and times, but these images are also something else: an artist’s interpretation of the human condition as he sees it and before our eyes, as real and certain as a shadow in the sun. ---AN

Constantine Manos was born in South Carolina in 1934 to Greek immigrant parents. Widely commissioned, published and exhibited, he has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1963. In 2003 he was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for American Color, from which these images have been taken.