Daniel und Geo Fuchs stage eyes of and with international artists, designers, and celebrities in diverse and fascinating ways.
Photography: Daniel + Geo Fuchs
Daniel and Geo Fuchs recently catapulted themselves to the top of the international art photography scene with their prizewinning book Conserving.
Their newest book is no less spectacular. It’s an unprecedented documentation of our era’s most famous people, including artists, photographers, designers, creators of culture, musicians, actors and architects.
Their austerely professional working method and the repeatedly surprising new ideas with which these conceptual artist/photographers pursued their „Famous Eyes“ project not only convinced the participating celebrities.
Each of these people was present with his or her full energy and enthusiasm when Daniel and Geo Fuchs used a box-like Polaroid camera, which had originally been developed for eye doctors, to produce these creative highlights. The beginning of each session was devoted to the project of taking an extreme close-up of the celebrity’s eye.
The next step was to stage a second image, which usually integrated the first portrait of the person’s eye. The resultant photographic artworks are every bit as diverse as are the personalities of the photographed individuals.
These portraits accurately reflect the many facets of life: from gorgeous and aesthetic, through crazy and shrill, to desolate and thought-provoking. A repre-sentative collection of these fascinating photos is now available in a large-format photo book entitled „Famous Eyes“.
Here are just a few of the names of the photographed celebrities:
Bryan Adams, Louise Bourgois, Peter Beard, Réné Burri, Christian Boltanski, David Bailey, Christo & Jeanne Claude, Anton Corbijn, Sophie Calle, Chuck Close, Maurizio Cattelan, Michel Comte Dolce&Gabbana, Ralph Gibson, Andreas Gursky, Pierre&Gilles, Sir Norman Foster, Paul McCarthy, Nina Hagen, Gary Hume, Wolfgang Joop, Kasper König, Anish Kapoor, Larry Clark, Peter Lindbergh, Christian Lacroix, Sarah Lucas, David Lachapelle, Mondino, Tracey Moffatt, Boris Michailov, Shirin Neshat, Jürgen Prochnow, Andrée Putmann, Ed Ruscha, Thomas Ruff, Paco Rabanne, Rammstein, Thomas Struth, Harald Szeemann, Andres Serrano, Barbara Sukowa, Thomas Schütte, Jürgen Teller, Olivero Toscani, Philippe Starck, Sven Väth, Ellen von Unwerth, Albert Watson, Sam Taylor-Wood, William Wegman, Joel-Peter Witkin.
Press comments and reviews
They peered into the eyes of Bryan Adams, Nina Hagen, and Wolfgang Joop: Frankfurt-based artists Daniel and Geo Fuchs spent three years photographing the eyes of the most prominent creative people of our time. Famous Eyes is the name of their project, which offers a startling new look at celebrities whom we thought we knew. (MAX, Germany)
The original idea was to photograph the eyes of star photographers and thus perhaps to discover something about the mystery of their talent. This idea soon widened to include photographs of the eyes of other artists, creative people, musicians, actors, actresses, and architects. We're in the midst of the latest artwork by Daniel and Geo Fuchs, the artist couple whose "Conserving" project brought them worldwide fame. Famous Eyes uses crazy, surprising, and often amusing ideas to highlight the personalities of the people who pose for these portraits. (PHOTO, France)
Celebrities eyes - celebrities in the limelight. Famous Eyes is the gigantically elaborate and artistically overwhelming new photo project by Daniel & Geo Fuchs (Conserving). Famous Eyes was already making headlines even before its publication. The book and its photos are all about eyes - the eyes of well-known people like Otto Sander, David Copperfield, Tom Tykwer, Bryan Adams, Udo Lindenberg, etc., etc. (HERSFELDER ZEITUNG, Germany)
"Here's looking at you, Kid." But even before "Casablanca," everyone knew that the eyes are the mirror of the soul. Eyes don't lie. And sometimes one can hardly believe one's eyes, for example, when they feast on a fantastic new book called Famous Eyes. (HAMBURGER MORGENPOST, Germany)
Wait a minute, isn't that ...? It sure is! Photographers Geo and Daniel Fuchs have looked through their lens and gazed into the depths of celebrities' eyes. Their photographic staging is refreshingly diverse and intriguingly new. The resul ts are an interplay between celebrities staging themselves and being staged by the photographers. Some of these famous eyes belong to magician David Copperfield, French conceptual artist Sophie Calle, rock singer Nina Hagen, and American photo artist William Wegman. (FREUNDIN, Germany)
One almost feels as though one were being watched. Eyes are everywhere - beautiful, ugly, weird, weary, radiant. An encyclopedic and fantastic documentation of an organ of perception. (HAMBURGER ABENDBLATT, Germany)
We hardly recognized them at first glance: neither David Copperfield nor Nina Hagen nor Christian Lacroix. Neither did we recognize Uschi Obermair, Rammstein, and Anton Corbijn. Who's responsible? Photographers Daniel & Geo Fuchs and their marvelously selective visual perception, that's who. These two artists set out to scrutinize the eyes of prominent artists, designers, musicians, architects, actors, and actresses. (ELLE, Germany)
They're two of the ho ttest names on the international photo scene: artist couple Daniel & Geo Fuchs were the talk of the town and the planet when they first unveiled their spectacularly gruesome shots of preserved creatures, which include specimens of the species called Homo sapiens. Somewhere among the conserved specimens in the medical institutions, the Fuchs duo must have discovered the Macro 5 SLR Polaroid camera. Their book (Famous Eyes) and its accompanying exhibition in Hamburg's Kunsthaus are the world premiere of their newest creation, in which they present extraordinary portraits of celebrities, artists, and other creative individuals. (PRINZ, Germany)
Daniel and Geo Fuchs first achieved international recognition in the wake of their "Conserving" project. The exhibition of pictures of "sleeping" specimens preserved in alcohol was a triumph at Rencontres d'Arles in 2000. But this photographer couple was already hard at work on their next series of imag es, the results of which are now presented inside the slipcase of this blockbuster, pink-packaged volume. Famous Eyes is much more than merely a collection of Polaroid portraits of international artists, curators, photographers, and media people, nor have Daniel & Geo Fuchs merely invited individuals like René Burri, Greg Gorman, Peter Lindbergh, or Anton Corbijn to stand in front of their camera. Each photo results from a playful dialogue in which the legendary Polaroid instant photo plays a decisive role. (COLOR FOTO, Germany)
Artists, photographers, actors, actresses, and architects always view the world from a different perspective than the rest of the population. If that weren't so, then the results of their work would scarcely attract attention. That's why photo artists Geo and Daniel Fuchs thought that it would be interesting to take a closer look at the eyes of these creative individuals. They first began pointing the lens of a Polaroid camera i nto the eyes of prominent celebrities three years ago. Now the results of this project are collected in a photo book called Famous Eyes, which includes portraits of the eyes of nearly 200 creative people. (FRANKFURTER NEUE PRESSE, Germany)
Following on the heels of their prizewinning, critically acclaimed, and internationally exhibited "Conserving" project, "Famous Eyes" is the latest exhibition and book project by Daniel & Geo Fuchs. It's an incomparable and unprecedented documentation of today's most famous creative personalities: artists, photographers, designers, makers of culture, musicians, actors, actresses, and architects. (NIKON FLASH, Germany)
Forword of this book
AN IRIDESCENT CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
If the eye weren’t like the sun,
how else would we be able to see the light?
The wider the diameter of the pupil,
the greater the appetite for that which is seen.
Detlef B. Linke
We look a person in the eye to find out whether we’re dealing with a friend or a foe. As we look at another person, we also surrender our gaze to that person and thus participate in the revealing game of the eyes, in the exchange of glances. Because a gaze often says more than a thousand words, my first glance at this artist couple convinced me: Daniel and Geo Fuchs instantly won my confidence! The reason for this had nothing to do with the blue of Daniel’s eyes nor with the brownish green of Geo’s eyes – a color, incidentally, whose hue I couldn’t recall precisely sometime afterwards.
This gap in my memory wasn’t due to the brief duration of the glances we exchanged. In a world full of colors, it’s paradoxical but true that black and white are the colors of the organs which enable us palpably to pursue the movements of the thoughts in the mind of the person we’re looking at. The essence of a person’s gaze always seems to lie in the contrast and interplay between the white conjunctiva and the black pupil. Under certain conditions, the dilation of the pupil can put so much black into the center of the eye that the color of the iris comes to play a subordinate role.(1)
Precisely this is what happens most often in Daniel’s and Geo’s eyes. Wide open and agape with curiosity, their pupils dilate to let the world in. The more ardently and unconditionally they devote themselves to a particular project, the more intense do the movements of the whites of their eyes become, the more starkly they contrast with the black of their pupils as these artists explain their work to another individual. This was the case with their previous and prize-winning Conserving(2) trilogy, and it is again the situation here in this newest project.
As the fact that I call them by their first names suggests, photographic artists Daniel and Geo Fuchs have long since become close friends of mine, and it fascinates me more each time to see how they repeatedly succeed in finding in the technical side of photography innovative and creative impulses for uncon-ventional worlds of imagery. The theme explored in Conserving was the most important characteristic of the medium of photography, i.e. the genre’s ability to conserve and eternalize a fleeting image.
This was the aspect which they chose as their working metaphor and ultimately as the subject of their work. Visiting numerous anatomical and scientific collections throughout Europe, they photo-graphed hundreds of specimens which had been preserved in alcohol or formaldehyde. The results of their research border on the miraculous. These preserved specimens of humans and animals look as though they’re dreaming, as though at a moment’s notice they might awaken from a slumber which was meant to last forever.
In Famous Eyes¸ on the other hand, Daniel and Geo turn their gaze to the familiar analogy between the eye and the camera, albeit in a manner which they reinterpret for this project in an entirely new fashion: namely, as both a metaphor and a motif. This reinterpretation results in a play of thoughts which functions in numerous directions and leaves plenty of room for surprises.
From a technical point of view, it’s well known that the iris serves as a regulator of incident light by controlling the amount of light which it allows into the eye. Behind the pupil, which is the central opening of the iris, lies the eye’s lens, which can vary its focal length much the way focal length can be adjusted in a camera.
To continue with our metaphor of the camera, the human eye can even adjust its aperture setting or “f-number”: the pupil dilates or contracts in accord with the brightness of the surroundings and in response to an individual’s moods. Finally, and again in a process which seems closely analogous to what goes on inside a camera, an image appears on the retina which represents the object that is being seen, but in which left and right, up and down are reversed so that the object appears as a mirror image standing on its head.
Of course, we can stretch this metaphor only so far before it snaps. Unlike the Cyclops of the camera, we humans are blessed with two eyes, not one. And it’s this crucial difference that enlivens the photographic activity presented to us in Famous Eyes. One Polaroid after another, Daniel and Geo Fuchs capture an extraordinarily large number of celebrities’ eyes.
The resulting volume is the fulfillment of a promise which is ultimately kept by the book itself. And fulfilled it is, most ably indeed, in the eyes of such world-famous citizens of our Global Village as Louise Bourgeois or Christo, two artists whose creations have long since become part of humankind’s cultural heritage, but whose eyes have seldom been seen, even by people who know and admire their artworks. I’m especially pleased that I too was able to contribute a few famous people to this project.
All who chanced to cross paths with the indefatigable artist couple of Geo and Daniel Fuchs soon found themselves scrutinized with a nearly scientific, documentary gaze, almost as though they were being subjected to an ophthal-mic examination, then photographed with commensurate coolness. What was lacking in this cool medium, of course, was warmheartedness. But this human warmth was provided by the two artists as they pursued their joint project of openly discovering and designing everything else, a process which is by no means typical when a person is being photographed!
The ultimate appearance of the counterpart photos which augment each of the eye portraits was deter-mined in a lengthy process of collaboration between Daniel and Geo Fuchs and the various people they photographed. This collaborative search was continued in a very playful and creative fashion for as long as necessary, and it didn’t come to an end until precisely the right configuration had been found. I know that this was the case because I experienced it firsthand.
To fix one’s gaze on some specific object always has the character of concerned attention because one opts for a highly personal selection from the wide spectrum of the visual environ-ment. In the interplay between depiction by others on the one hand and self-presentation on the other, perhaps it is this attention which guarantees that behind the celebrity who eludes our grasp, a tiny piece of the real person always becomes visible.
(1) Detlef B. Linke: Kunst und Gehirn. Die Eroberung des Unsichtbaren.
Rowohlt Publishers, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 2001, p. 31.
(2) Daniel & Geo Fuchs, Conserving, Edition Reuss, Munich, 2000.
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