The exhibit opens with a series of Polaroids called Photo – Transformation by Lucas Samaras. He was a member of the “New Jersey School,” a group of artistic hipsters, including Roy Lichtenstein, associated with Rutgers University back in the 1970s, I think.
The primary subject of Samaras’ photographic work is his own self-image, generally distorted and mutilated. His Photo-Transformations were created by manipulating the wet dyes of the Polaroid film.
I don’t how many he did in total, but there are seven on display dated 1973 and 1974.
His “Photo-Transformation November 7, 1973” usually hangs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Their corresponding website entry poses questions on the nature of his work:
What does Lucas Samaras reveal about himself in this Photo-Transformation?
He created this self-portrait with a Polaroid camera, but he did not let the picture develop on its own. Samaras altered the print by manipulating the dyes, slightly obscuring his head and shoulders.
The viewer’s attention focuses on his gaping mouth, which suggests a long, desperate scream. Perhaps Samaras was trying to convey that he is frightened. Is he crying out in despair, or pain, or rage? Or is he crying out at all? This portrait seems to present more questions than answers, somewhat like the artist himself.
This viewer’s attention focuses on the bulging eyes conveying his horror at being enclosed in a manipulated dye. His scream of desperate rage would be perfectly normal, as far as I’m concerned.
I took this next picture, but I’m not clear from the placard if it’s another Polaroid from the Getty Museum. The purchase through the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation for the Loeb Center is of a Large-format Polaroid Polacolor (2010 Acquisitions) which this obviously is not.
This is not the only butt-naked Photo – Transformation of Lucas Samaras in his kitchen. There’s another 1974 (I don’t know exact date) for $20,000 with all proceeds pledged to the Foundation of Contemporary Arts for grant programs.
NOTE: I didn’t buy the hardcover of The Polaroid Years: Instant Photography and Experimentation at the exhibit because I didn’t have $50 cash on me, but the book is available through Amazon with free shipping.