Interview: Andrew Zuckerman

by Natasha Starkell | 08.02.2013 | flower , art , color , interview | 0 comments | Rating: 1 votes

Interview: Andrew Zuckerman

Interview: Andrew Zuckerman

Andrew Zuckerman is working with flowers, in photographs and movies, showing them in a pure, fragile, sometimes alien way. When we first saw his work we got lost in colors, forms, textures and emotions.

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Andrew Zuckerman is working with flowers, in photographs and movies, showing them in a pure, fragile, sometimes alien way. When we first saw his work we got lost in colors, forms, textures and emotions.


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Your photographs are very inspiring, and so beautiful. How and when did you come up with the idea?

Conceptually, the photographic surveys I do of the natural world, (in this case, Flower, but also my previous projects, Bird and Creature,) are inspired by two things: The taxonomical impulse at work in many naturalist studies at the turn of the 20th century – like the botanical drawings from that era, or the works of Audubon – and the work of designers I admire, like Buckminster Fuller and Massimo Vignelli. My goal, like the goal of a good designer, is to avoid imposing anything on the subject. That’s why I shoot all my subjects in the blank field of light – it allows me to draw out their essential qualities, rather than impose an aesthetic or narrative layer on the subject. This was particulalrly interesting to me in the case of flowers, since they’re so exhausted as an artistic subject, but more often than not, they’re used in metaphorically or narratively. I wanted to divorce them from these associations and just create the most precise, accurate two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional living things. I was also inspired by the idea of creating a record, much like the naturalists of the 19th century.



How do you create these images, analog or digital? Do you alter your results?

I use digital photography, and the images are retouched afterward. Though post-production takes place on a computer, we’re essentially using the same techniques used in a darkroom – dodging, burning, basic color, balance, and tone – to draw out what exists in a subject.


Do you prefer photos or movies to express your ideas?

I prefer whatever medium is the best vehicle for exploring the material. And in many cases, I take a multi-media approach, because I’m interested in diversifying the points of entry into the work.


Is there a favorite amongst your works?

I don’t have a favorite.


Do you see that artists increasingly use nature / natural objects / plants to create their artwork?

I notice a trend toward the use of more organic materials, yes.


Is there any artist, in general, that you admire the most?

The list is way too long.


Which plant was hardest to photograph, and why?

It’s funny because I expected the flowers to be very fragile, especially under the incredibly bright, hot lights, and that didn’t turn out to be the case. In fact, they were incredibly resilient. So in terms of difficulty, I would say getting access to some of the rarer species, like the Darwin’s Star Orchid, posed the biggest challenge. The cannabis plant we shot was another very tough one to track down. In the first case, we were lucky enough to have the support of the New York Botanical Garden, who granted us access to the Darwin’s Star during their orchid show. In the latter, we were fortunate to shoot at Oaksterdam University, a medicinal marijuana growing and educational facility, shortly before it was raided and shut down in 2011.


If you had one extra hour every day, what would you do?

Play music.


What's the best advice you ever heard?

When I was interviewing Chuck Close for the Wisdom project, he said that inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.


Sushi or Salad?



Balcony or Garden?



Tea or Coffee?



Mountains or Ocean?



Sun or Moon?



Dog or Cat?



Inside or Outside? 



Friday or Sunday?



Spring or Fall?




Natasha Starkell
Written by Natasha Starkell

Working mum, struggling with gardening chores.

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