- Lucas Samaras
- UNTITLED (SELF-PORTRAIT WITH HANDS)
- Unique large-format Polaroid Polacolor print
Cologne, Photokina, Selections 6: Works from the Polaroid Collection, September 1992, and traveling to 16 other venues through 1999 (see Appendix 1)
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras, November 2003 - February 2004
Marla Prather, Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2003), p. 293 (this print)
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Throughout his career, the artist Lucas Samaras has found in Polaroid materials ready tools to serve his restless and omnivorous appetite for invention. His first use of Polaroid materials was in 1969, when he acquired a Polaroid 360 camera and began his series of transformational AutoPolaroids. In the early 1970s, the advent of the Polaroid SX-70 allowed him to further push the bounds of transformation. In the 1980s, Samaras was granted use of Polaroid's 20-by-24-inch camera—which at one point in 1980 was loaned to him at his New York apartment—and the massive room-sized 40-by-80-inch Polaroid camera housed in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
The multi-talented Samaras, whose explorations in sculpture, painting, drawing, and film in the 1960s and 1970s marked him as one of the most fundamentally experimental artists of his generation, was untrained as a photographer. The Polaroid camera, with its instant delivery of a finished print, initially allowed him to work alone in his home studio and see the results immediately. The confrontational immediacy of his earliest photographic work persists throughout his career and is very much present in the arresting 20-by-24-inch self-portrait offered here.
Among Samaras's talents is his adept use of lighting to transform his subject. Utilizing colored gels intended for theatrical use, Samaras creates in this image dramatic modulations and saturated passages of color, all enhanced by the Polacolor process. The concentrated impact of his much smaller SX-70s explodes here with an even greater force in the oversized 20-by-24-inch format. As can be seen in the Samaras images present within the pages of this catalogue, he was able to find and exploit the creative leverage offered by all of the Polaroid formats with which he experimented.