Samiksha Jaiswal

Michael Somoroff

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Education  The New School
Books  Two Crowns of the Egg
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Michael somoroff red sea

Michael Somoroff is a conceptual artist, director, photographer, and communication consultant. Whether in moving pictures, still image or through his installation work, Somoroff has directed and created work for advertising agencies, publications and cultural institutions. He is also a teacher and cultural commentator who has worked with academic/cultural institutions including SUNY Stony Brook, The University of the Arts, The Rothko Chapel and the International Center of Photography.


Michael Somoroff Black and White Portrait Photography by Michael Somoroff

The focus of his art is spiritual and philosophical. Somoroff's work is an expression of the Alexey Brodovitch model translated into postmodern culture.


Absence of subject august sander e michael somoroff estratto dal videofocus

Early life

Michael Somoroff photos by Michael Somoroff everydayishow

Somoroff's father, Ben Somoroff, was a still-life photographer. Somoroff spent much of his youth at his father's studio, on 54th street in New York City. He became his father's studio manager and worked with the many artists who frequented the studio.


Michael Somoroff A Moment Master Photographers Portraits by Michael Somoroff I

In October 1979, the first exhibition of Somoroff's photography was held at the International Center of Photography in New York City, under the supervision of Cornell Capa.

Michael Somoroff Interview Michael Somoroff Gear Patrol

Somoroff had opened his photography studio in the mid-seventies, and started working for magazines such as Life, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Stern, in Europe and the US. He worked with designers and art directors, including Milton Glaser, who got him his first assignment for New York magazine.

He continued to develop his personal work, traveling throughout Europe, forming friendships that served as the foundation for his artistic efforts. Among his most important mentors was the photographer Gyula Halász, better known as Brassaï, Andreas Feininger, Louis Faurer, and André Kertész. He took their portraits as well as of many other photographers he met early in his career. Thirty five years later, he published these photographs in a book A Moment. Master Photographers: Portraits that was selected as Best Book of the Year by American Photo.

Somoroff began directing films and became "a specialist in the little-known world of tabletop directing."

In New York in the late 1980s, he helped to create McGuffin Films Ltd., a tabletop production company where he was a senior partner for 27 years, creating commercials for clients.

In 2006, Somoroff created a large-scale outdoor installation, Illumination I, for the Rothko Chapel in Houston. The New York Times describes his approach as "Madison Avenue meets the Italian Renaissance: big budgets, large teams, high-tech tools and an artist-manager equally at ease with corporate sponsors and Chelsea gallerists." A companion piece to Somoroff's installation Illumination, Illumination (2007) is an album by the American ambient musician Robert Rich. On the occasion of the installation's move to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, the audio track to Somoroff's Illumination, was presented as a multimedia installation by BravinLee Programs in Chelsea, New York City during the summer of 2007. The sculpture was last exhibited at Art OMI in 2008.

In 2008, Somoroff was invited by the curator Father Friedhelm Mennekes of St. Peter's Art Station Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, to create the priest's farewell project after more than 25 years of his ministry. Mennekes asked Somoroff to create an artwork that could be included in the cathedral's Easter Mass. Somoroff, in partnership with corporations, created a series of videos and a two story high installation called The Red Sea, which was made of thousands of pieces of wood.

Absence of Subject, Somoroff's "unconventional homage" to photographer August Sander, was first presented on the occasion of the 2011 Venice Biennale on Piazza San Marco. The piece has been traveling throughout Europe and South America since then.

Somoroff's work is represented in the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and Museo Correr, Venice; it has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Somoroff produced a series of short videos of poet Giannina Braschi reading from her postcolonial work United States of Banana; the films debuted at Cervantes Institute in New York in 2011.

Somoroff is an official "artist in residence" at the Wyss Translational Center Zurich.

Somoroff lives and works in New York City.

Publications by Somoroff

  • The Vegetables Series. International Center of Photography, 1985.
  • Kinder in Europa. Nicolai, 1988 ISBN 9783875842227.
  • Image of the Not-Seen: Search for Understanding. The Rothko Chapel Art Series, 2005. ISBN 0945472048.
  • Michael Somoroff: Illumination I, Rothko Chapel, Rothko Chapel Books, 2008. ISBN 9780979091605.
  • Absence of Subject. Walter König, 2011. ISBN 978-0983615606.
  • A Moment. Master Photographers, Portraits by Michael Somoroff. Damiani, 2012. ISBN 9788862082112.
  • Two Crowns of The Egg. Michael Somoroff, Donald Kuspit, Giannina Braschi, Damiani, 2014. ISBN 9788862083539.
  • Exhibitions

  • 1979: Vegetable Series, International Center of Photography, New York, NY
  • 1985: Olympus Galerie, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2006: Illumination, Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas, 2006; Illumination, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, 2007; BravinLee Programs, Chelsea, New York City, NY, 2007; Illumination, OMI International Art Center, Sculpture park, Ghent, NY, 2008;
  • 2007: Vitamin W, The Wonder Factor, Newark, NJ
  • 2008: The Red Sea, Kunst-Station Sankt Peter, Köln, Germany
  • 2008: Genesis, Video Animation during Easter Mass, Kunst-Station Sankt Peter, Köln, Germany
  • 2008: The Absence of the Subject, Fotofest Houston, Offsite, Houston, Texas, 2008; Piazza San Marco, on the occasion of the Venice Biennale, Italy, 2011; Villa Brandolini F4 Un’Idea di Fotografia, Solighetto-Treviso, Italy, 2012; Galleri Image, Aarhus, Denmark, 2012; Fondazione Stelline, Milan, Italy, 2013; Centro de Arte la Regenta, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, 2013; Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Tenerife, Spain, 2013; Sala Municipal de Exposiciones de las Francesas, Valladolid, Spain, 2013; Museo Nacional des Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay, 2014; Encuentros Abiertos in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2014; Sirius Arts Centre, Cork, Ireland, 2014; Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, 2014; Villa Vauban, Luxembourg City Museum, 2015; Ruth Leuchter gallery, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2015.
  • 2012: Tefillah I, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, Germany
  • 2013: Master Photographers, Galerie Julian Sander, Bonn, Germany, 2013; Fondazione Francesco Fabbri, Treviso, Italy, 2014; Sol Mednick Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, 2015.
  • References

    Michael Somoroff Wikipedia

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