Published by Yale University Press in association with Harvard University Art Museums
Considered one of the most thought-provoking photographers working today, South African-born Gary Schneider creates unique luminescent portraits that transform their speciﬁc subject matter and probe the enigmatic character of identity. This remarkable book is the ﬁrst to examine Schneider’s innovative portrait work.
Deborah Martin Kao discusses how over the past two decades Schneider has reinterpreted the parameters of the portrait in a diverse series of projects. Fascinated by the process of photography, Schneider has created representations of nineteenth-century studio portraits, handprint photograms, and fragmented face portraits that reveal as much about the language of photography as they do about the subjects being depicted. Kao explains that Schneider moved from using photography to document his performances to making his photographs their own kind of visual performance. Much of Schneider’s portrait work demonstrates the collaboration between artist and subject. This can be seen in the artist’s use of a light pen to sculpt or trace his subjects over long exposures, his prints that display traces of movement in time through the eﬀects of intermittent light and the involuntary shifting of the sitter, and his work with scientists to create negatives from which he makes strikingly beautiful images of blood, DNA, and hair. These innovative methods represent a fascinating evolution in traditional thinking about the nature of photographic portraiture.
Gary Schneider: Portraits also features an interview with Schneider that provides insight into his life and working methods, presenting a revelatory look at an extraordinary contemporary photographer.
Deborah Martin Kao is the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard Universtiy Art Museums, and senior lecturer in Harvard University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture.
Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition organized by the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, and held at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (February 28–June 13, 2004) and the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu (August 13–October 10, 2004).