Thursday, September 23, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Lucas Samaras 'Polaroids - Photo Transformations'

Lucas Samaras (b. 1936, Macedonia, Greece) immigrated to West New York, N.J., in 1948. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1959 with a degree in Art and shortly thereafter studied briefly under Meyer Shapiro in the Graduate Department of Art History at Columbia University. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Samaras also studied acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York City.
Considered a pioneer in the field of photography, Samaras is also widely recognized for his inventive use of such diverse materials as acrylic and oil paints, pastels, pencil, ink, aluminum, bronze, clay, Cor-Ten steel, fabric, film, precious metals and stones, plaster, wire, razor blades and pins. He first began using a Polaroid 360 camera in 1969 making his AutoPolaroids; the majority of the works from this first series are self-portraits. In 1973 the Polaroid Corporation gave Samaras an SX-70 camera for experimentation and Samaras began another series of pictures referred to as Photo-Transformations. It was at this time that he began to manipulate the emulsions in the Polaroids to alter the final image. In 1978 Samaras used an ARCA-SWISS camera and 8 x 10 Polacolor film to create three new series of photographs Figures, Still Lifes, and Sittings - containing autobiographical elements. Samarass single foray into film resulted in Self, a 23-minute 16mm film that premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in 1969. His more recent work revisits the moving image via digital video, as well as still images shown on computer monitors. Samaras continues to work with digitally manipulated images in his newest photographic series, NYC Chairs (2007-08).