Image above: Copyright Chuck Samuels, "After Avedon," 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
ClampArt presented on February 19th “Chuck Samuels: Before the Camera.” While his work has been exhibited internationally quite extensively since 1980, this is the artist’s first solo show in New York City.
Chuck Samuels at ClampArt on the opening night.
ClampArt on the opening night
Based in Montréal, Samuels frequently photographs or films himself, and his work often touches upon art history, feminism, and psychoanalysis. For this early body of work being presented at ClampArt, Samuels created twelve astonishingly faithful reconstructions of portraits of nude women from the history of photography by such modern masters as Paul Outerbridge, Man Ray, Edward Weston, and Richard Avedon, among others. However, in place of the female subjects, Samuels has staged himself “before the camera.”
(left image) Copyright Chuck Samuels, "After Newton," 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City ; (right image) Copyright Chuck Samuels, "After Weston," 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City.
Going so far as to replicate the precise size and style of display of the original artworks, Samuels caps his deconstructive statement by asking women to click the shutter release on the camera, finalizing his gender inversion. While everyone is aware of the ubiquity and violence of female objectification in Western culture, by parodying these iconic art historical images with his own body, Samuels establishes himself as an erotic object, confusing a typically implicit male gaze.
(Left Image) Copyright Chuck Samuels, "After Mapplethorpe," 1990, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City ; (Right image) Copyright Chuck Samuels, "After Gowin," 1990, Gelatin silver print, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City.
All Opening images by Lena Vassiliou