Adam Fuss

Untitled, 1999
unique spore print on paper, 33-7/8 x 24-7/8 inches (framed) [84 x 63.2 cm]

Since the 1980s, Adam Fuss has explored the natural world and its symbolic, spiritual meaning using a range of techniques that draw from photographic history, including pinhole cameras, daguerreotypes, and photograms. Fuss has refined a cameraless technique in his work, relying on the most basic infrastructure of photography: objects, light and light-sensitive material.

Untitled, 2015
unique Cibachrome photogram, 49-1/2 x 44 inches (framed) [125.73 x 111.76 cm]

His work includes photograms of water droplets, smoke, flowers, christening gowns, birds captured in flight, and snakes swimming through water—images that radiate a curious living presence. Writing about his photograms in Aperture, Michael Sand notes, “Part of the appeal of the photogram for Fuss is its directness. The objects depicted came into physical contact with the very paper on which the final print appears. The experience is somehow also more tactile, and in the case of Fuss’s recent work, more visceral. The photograms that involve plants and animals seem not to depict—they invoke the moment of photographic creation, and the life of the organic material, with an eerie immediacy.”

Untitled, 2022
pigment print on gesso coated aluminum, 41-7/8 x 32 inches (framed) [106.4 x 81.3 cm], edition of 3
Life line, 2020
cast aluminum, 17-1/2 x 17-1/2 inches [44.5 x 44.5 cm]

He is also known for reviving the laborious daguerreotype technique, with breathtaking results. Fuss has used the glass plate process to record objects including peacocks, butterflies, skulls, snakes, the Taj Mahal and its floral wall reliefs, the body of a swan with its wings extended, and his own reflection. Sharp as a mirror with a dark and ethereal quality, Fuss’s daguerreotypes bring to mind ghosts—a connection made explicit in the title of his monograph My Ghost. In a review of Fraenkel Gallery’s 2001 exhibition, David Bonetti, writing in The San Francisco Chronicle, notes, “Although the quality of the image can be very precise…they possess an otherworldly quality. The images seem to exist nowhere, not on the surface of the shiny metal sheet, behind it or hovering in front but in all three places simultaneously.”

From the series ‘My Ghost’, 2014
daguerreotype, 34 x 27-1/2 inches (framed) [86.4 x 69.9 cm]

Starting in the 1990s, Fuss began a series of color photograms that picture babies floating in what look like pools of gold or blue light. Placing infants in warm, shallow water with unexposed photo paper beneath them, Fuss used a quick burst of light to freeze the subject, revealing each child’s individual gestures and silhouette. Among the subjects Fuss has photographed for the series are Sir Elton John and David Furnish’s sons, Zachary and Elijah, who Fuss photographed as infants.

Untitled, 2013
unique Cibachrome photogram, 46-1/4 x 36-1/2 inches (framed) [118.1 x 92.3 cm]

His work is illustrated in several monographs, among them Adam Fuss, My Ghost, and Water. The Fundación Mapfre, Madrid, mounted a comprehensive survey of Fuss’s work in 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.

Untitled, 2007
gelatin silver photogram, 49 x 84-1/4 inches (framed) [124.5 x 214 cm]