Artist Spotlight: Adam Fuss, Cameraless Photography

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In the coming weeks, my PHOT67 class will be examining cameraless photography as a way to work “outside” of the photographic box and to examine truly unique processes. Then, we will be scanning and making negatives out of the unique originals and editioning them via inkjet or silver gelatin print methods. Part of the fun of the class is constantly changing between digital and analogue modes. Many of the artists I show in the class lecture are currently featured in the Unphotographable show at the Fraenkel Gallery, including Adam Fuss, who’s use of the photogram process demands attention and high prices for one-of-a-kind and unique images.

The Victoria Albert Museum writes “Conceived as visual elegies, Adam Fuss’s work is about the discovery of the unseen, the expression of the ephemeral and the universal themes of life and death. Working in his darkroom, he creates a series of ‘daguerreotype’ photograms of butterflies. Now a largely obsolete photographic medium, the daguerreotype was first used in the 1840s. Fuss also uses live snakes in his studio, making images that explore the animal’s symbolic and metaphorical meanings”.

To highlight their 2010/2011 exhibition Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography  the V&A commissioned five short films on each of the featured artists, showing their studios and places that inspire them. One of the artists featured is Adam Fuss.

Adam Fuss, born in 1961, has refined a cameraless technique in his work, relying on the most basic infrastructure of photography: objects, light and light-sensitive material. His work includes photograms of water droplets, smoke, flowers, christening gowns, and birds captured in flight. He is also known for reviving the laborious daguerreotype technique with breathtaking results. His work is illustrated in several monographs, among them Adam Fuss and My Ghost.  The Mapfre Foundation, Madrid mounted a comprehensive survey of Fuss’ work in January, 2011. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others.

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