new-york

Lucas Samaras

Pace Wildenstein

Self-proclaimed “urban hermit” Lucas Samaras is well known for his innumerable self-portraits. Some of these are photographs, most are paintings, but perhaps the most famous is his series “Photo Transformations,” 1973–76, which was made by manipulating the emulsion of Polaroid photographs as they self-developed. The strategy evokes the “desire to interfere” that Salvador Dalí proposed as a key element of Surrealism. It also extends Max Ernst’s frottage technique into new, hallucinatory territory. Further, it is an example of what André Breton called “paranoiac-critical activity,” a “spontaneous method of ‘irrational knowledge’ ” involving “delirious associations.”

Samaras has been making faces at himself in the chemical mirror of the photographic surface ever since. He is playfully modernist in his reckless contortion of the medium. It is almost as though he is rebelling against the

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