Schrager’s photographs of naturalia are widely considered among the best contemporary achievements in the genre of still life composition. As with the well known series of birds held in hands (the subject of Schrager’s previous show at Edwynn Houk Gallery), the present studies of flowers and plants read as meditations on the interplay between nature and culture. Here we see close-up views of flowers, leaves, and branches in all seasons photographed in their natural environment. In each picture a hand appears holding a closed book behind the botanical subject – the book isolating the principal subject from the background, while the hand provides scale. The book recalls the long tradition of botanical illustration, and is a symbol of intellectual investigation or contemplation. The plant on the other hand suggests the immediacy of sensual experience. The hands provide the human mediation between the two.
Working with an 8 by 10 view camera, a slow, deliberate process, the photographer patiently absorbs the reality at hand while carefully crafting his composition.This meticulous approach is duplicated in the printing method, the platinum/palladium process whose subtle tonal range allows the photographer to render Nature’s exquisite gradations of light and texture. The resulting images are uniquely photographic, recalling both the plant studies of Karl Blossfeldt and the natural photography of Edward Weston.
A Harvard graduate, Victor Schrager (b. 1950) is a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and of a MacDowell Colony Resident Fellowship. His work has been featured in numerous one person and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Japan over the past twenty years. His photographs are in the permanent collections of, among many, The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Center for Creative Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Polaroid International Collection, The International Center of Photography, The San Francisco Museum of Art, and in various private collections.