Sandy Skoglund Research Paper
Sandy Skoglund (born September 11, 1946) is an American photographer and installation artist.
Skoglund creates surrealist images by building elaborate sets or tableaux, furnishing them with carefully selected colored furniture and other objects, a process of which takes her months to complete. Finally, she photographs the set, mostly including live models. The works are characterized by an overwhelming amount of one object and either bright, contrasting colors or a monochromatic color scheme.
Skoglund was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1946. She spent her childhood all over the country including the states Maine, Connecticut, and California. She studied both art history and studio art at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, graduating in 1968. In 1967, she studied art history through her college's study abroad program at the Sorbonne and École du Louvre in Paris, France. After graduating in 1969, she went to graduate school at the University of Iowa, where she studied filmmaking, multimediaart, and printmaking. In 1971, she earned her Master of Arts and in 1972 a Master of Fine Arts in painting.
In 1972, Skoglund began working as a conceptual artist in New York City. She became interested in teaching herself photography to document her artistic endeavors, and experimenting with themes of repetition. She was interested in dealing with repetitive, process-oriented art production through the techniques of mark-making and photocopying. In 1978, she had produced a series of repetitious food item still life images. Skoglund's works are quirky and idiosyncratic, and as former photography critic for The New York TimesAndy Grundberg describes, they "evoke adult fears in a playful, childlike context".
One of her most-known works, entitled Radioactive Cats, features green-painted clay cats running amok in a gray kitchen. An older man sits in a chair with his back facing the camera while his elderly wife looks into a refrigerator that is the same color as the walls. Her 1990 work, "Fox Games has a similar feel to Radioactive Cats";it unleashes the imagination of the viewer is allowed to roam freely. A third and final often recognized piece by her features numerous fish hovering above people in bed late at night and is called Revenge of the Goldfish. The piece was used as cover art for the Inspiral Carpets album of the same name.
Skoglund was an art professor at the University of Hartford between 1973 and 1976. She is currently teaching photography and art installation/multimedia at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
In 2008, Skoglund completed a series titled "True Fiction Two". This project is similar to the "True Fiction" series that she began in 1986. This series was not completed due to the discontinuation of materials that Skoglund was using. Kodak canceled the production of the dye that Skoglund was using for her prints. Each image in "True Fiction Two" has been meticulously crafted to assimilate the visual and photographic possibilities now available in digital processes.
Her works are held in numerous museum collections including the Museum of Contemporary Photography,San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Dayton Art Institute.
Skoglund holds a faculty position at the Department of Arts, Culture and Media of University of Rutgers–Newark in Newark, New Jersey.
Widely circulated since the 1980s, the colourful, hallucinatory images created by Sandra Louise Skoglund have a touch of the fantastical. After having studied painting at the University of Iowa, she moved to New York in 1972, where she started working as a conceptual artist. In 1974, her first work, inspired by the work of the photographer couple Becher, portrays a series of apparently identical houses, but with only one differing detail. In 1978, she worked on advertising rhetoric and, with her series Food Still Lifes, created still lifes with vibrant, artificial colours made from food placed on tablecloths with geometric patterns (Luncheon Meat on a Counter). Her images became internationally recognised after Radioactive Cats (1980), which shows an elderly couple in a grey kitchen overrun by fluorescent green cats. Staged in her small studio and with her neighbours as actors, the image evokes (as does science-fiction), the intrusion of nature into daily life. The artist photographs imaginary spaces that she invents entirely: an invasion of coat-hangers in a yellow room with a pink floor (Hangers, 1980) or terracotta goldfish floating in a blue children’s bedroom (Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981). Created with the Cibachrome process, the aggressive colours contrast greatly with the aesthetic of black-and-white photography, giving the images an unreal atmosphere. The artist took several months to create the set for each image. For Atomic Love (1992), where the decors and models are entirely covered in raisins, she even took classes on grape-growing. The stage design is often spectacular, the work itself, baroque and theatrical, and the atmosphere that emanates from it, stressful. The photographer sets up a neurotic and potentially nightmarish universe of the American middle class. The dangers of dehumanisation are dealt with in a tragic and parodic way; the obsession with cleanliness, for example, is ridiculed in Germs Are Everywhere (1984), where a green living room is literally invaded by chewed pink chewing gum.
In the situations she invents, human beings often disappear behind a mob of animals or objects. Her work perfectly symbolises the hybrid practices of contemporary art; for her, sculpture is the starting point for organising a space that she transforms into an installation, and which photography records. The photographic medium is vital, allowing a variety of materials to be brought together, contained within one creative process. Her works therefore exist in two forms: the installation and the photographs. Fox Games (1989), an image portraying red foxes taking over a blue-grey restaurant, was the result of an installation created at the Centre Pompidou, but the work was later done again as just an installation with the colours inverted. Walking on Eggshells (1997) shows how an installation can give physical form to anxiety: naked women walk on ground covered with eggs and filled with rabbits and snakes. Skoglund’s artistic approach is the result of in-depth thought on the combination of genres and on the history of photography, which she has taught at Rutgers University since 1976. All the while creating a feeling of strangeness and anxiety in the viewer, the installations created by this atypical artist still bear touches of fantasy and humour.
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque