Gary Schneider

Gary Schneider (1954-  ) was born in South Africa and raised in Cape Town.  He now lives and works in New York City. He earned a BFA from the University of Cape Town in South Africa and an MFA from Pratt Institute in NY. Schneider’s twin obsessions of biology and portraiture have led to series such as, “The Genetic Self-Portrait” and “Botanical.” In “Genetic Self-Portrait” he worked with materials that varied from nineteenth century negatives found at a flea market to complex modern medical photo microscopy, in collaboration with scientists. “Genetic Self-Portrait” not only challenges our notions of portraiture and likeness but the series also pushes the medium of photography to extremes.  The work was completed I n 1998 and was exhibited in the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the International Center for Photography in New York among other venues. The book was published by Light Work, Syracuse in 1999.   “Botanical,” began in 1989 as an homage to eighteenth and nineteenth century botanical studies and has evolved into collaborations with a biologist and an electron microscopist.   Both bodies of work illuminate the artist’s ongoing absorption with science and his intertwined obsessions with found objects, biography, and autobiography.  In 2004, “Portraits” a survey of Schneider’s work was mounted at the Sackler Museum of Harvard University. The catalogue was published by Yale University Press.  In 2005, the Aperture Foundation published Nudes, from a series of uncompromising and confrontational life-size photographs of naked subjects.  The people were photographed in a darkened room with a large-format camera.  The artist used very long exposures and illuminated the bodies with a pen light that moved nervously and irregularly around the forms.  The results were remindful of what have happened were the artist Francis Bacon to have picked up a camera.  The show traveled from New York to the Reykjavik Art Museum in 2010.  In 2010 Aperture published HandBook , another variation on Schneider’s theme of identity and biography. Schneider’s work is represented in many collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Canada, the Guggenheim, the Art Institute of Chicago, George Eastman House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Harvard University Art Museum and the Boston Museum of Fine Art.  In addition to being known as a respected and experimental photographer, Schneider also enjoys a reputation as an elite printer.  In addition to his own output, Schneider, earlier in his career printed for no less a master than Irving Penn, among others.  Schneider is currently a faculty member at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.