I am obsessed with fine art photography. From the first time a private client enlisted my help in starting a fine art photography collection, I was smitten. The narrative and subtext in a great photograph can captivate me for hours. Vintage black and white photographs, and their study of light and form, speak to my love of architecture…while contemporary photography, with more of an emphasis on story and color, speak to my love of film. After hanging so many great pieces of photography on so many different clients’ walls, I decided to make my first purchase and haven’t looked back since. Each piece has the opportunity to enrich your experience of a room…so photography has played a major part in many of my interior design projects. For me, it is always the primary layer in every space. Five photographers that really excite me right now are:
1. Vik Muniz
Photography is the way he captures his jaw-dropping creations that often reinterpret iconic images, causing you to reconsider everything you previously thought about them. Using a vast array of unexpected materials, such as chocolate, peanut butter, oil, plastic toys, and industrial junk, Vik transforms familiar images, giving you reason to look at them in a new way. Among his creations is a reinterpretation of photographer Horst P. Horst’s portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier, before she marries JFK, completely created out of diamonds, and Jean-Louis David’s famous painting, “The Death of Marat,” recreated using garbage from the dumps of Sao Paulo. In one of my favorite series, Gordian Puzzles, Vik selects subjects who are, in and of themselves, enigmas or “puzzles.” Images such as J.W. Waterhouse’s painting of “Ophelia,” or the iconic photograph of a young Muhammad Ali, are made into various puzzles whose pieces are then layered on top of each other, not quite fitting and therefore not completely cogent in their appearance. The end result is rich in commentary, subtext, and visual interest. For information on how to purchase his work, go to sikkemajenkinsco.com.
2. Holly Andres
Reminiscent of classic covers from the Nancy Drew book series, images from Holly Andres’ series, “Sparrow Lane,” are like candy-colored film stills featuring girls on the verge of becoming women…unraveling mysteries and discovering clues…all while adorned in vintage dresses, stockings, and hair styles. In many ways, these images are a metaphor for the precarious transition from girlhood to womanhood. I find this series so captivating for its perfect confluence of nostalgia, narrative, graphic imagery, and lush coloring. The greens, reds, and blues in the “The Lost Mitten”…along with the expressions on the subjects’ faces…make this particular image one of my favorites. For more information on how to purchase her work, go to jacksonfineart.com.
3. David Hilliard
Providing a much needed male perspective, while also presenting beautifully graphic images, David Hilliard’s photographs become the focus of any room I place them in. Although most of his pieces are offered in two sizes, I always gravitate towards the larger one. For me, this is the best way to experience the impact of his work. Oftentimes underscoring the isolation and loneliness that we have all felt at one time or another, these scenes unfold through a language of panoramic photographs that collectively come together to tell a story. The emotional distance between the characters in an image is often represented through their physical distance. These images always manage to be both simultaneously complex and completely relate-able. One of my favorite images, “Swimmers,” showcases an adolescent boy sitting alone on the banks of a river while a group of his peers are frolicking in the water to his left. He appears to be pondering why he is different and the weight of his isolation is palpable. All of this, however, is presented over the course of three incredibly beautiful panels that also manage to have a lush richness and a cinematic sense of light that is a characteristic of much of David Hilliard’s work. For more information on how to purchase his work, go to jacksonfineart.com.
4. Mona Kuhn
I find Mona Kuhn’s work hard to resist. There is an immediate sense of attraction to their beautiful sense of light, impeccable sense of color, and luminous subjects. Although much of her work revolves around the ancient subject of nudes and the human body, there is nothing remotely traditional about how Mona has pursued this genre. These images have an almost “painterly” quality about them, with some of my favorite pieces showcasing something or someone clearly in focus, while something or someone else sits in the background reduced almost to rudimentary orbs of light. The wonderful thing about Mona’s work is that you are immediately attracted to their beauty…but stay forever intrigued by the mystery of their narrative. They manage to be smart, interesting, and complex while also appealing to your most visceral senses. One of my favorite pieces is “Merle.” Its perfect exhibition of color, light, proportion, scale, and narrative keeps me eternally intrigued. For more information on how to purchase her work, go to jacksonfineart.com.
5. Fan Ho
Although I mostly gravitate towards contemporary work these days, Fan Ho is one of the exceptions. This Chinese photographer blazed the trail decades ago with his keen eye for light, graphic imagery, abstraction, and drama. His black and white photographs of old Hong Kong document what this international hub of commerce used to look like…but does so in a way that looks modern even by today’s standards. Beams of light look architectural in their precision, shadows add crispness and intrigue, and the presence of a narrative adds to the richness of what you are looking at. “Approaching Shadow” is one of my favorite images from his series “Hong Kong Yesterday” and showcases his masterful eye and sharp sense of editing. The sharp diagonal formed by the shadow of a building encroaches on a young woman leaning against a wall and appears simultaneously beautiful and dangerous. I always find his work timeless and a master class in fundamental design principles. For more information on how to purchase his work, go to modernbook.com.