b. 1946 Weymouth, MA; Lives and works in Jersey City, NJ
Sandy Skoglund (b. 1946 Weymouth, MA) is an artist whose conceptual photography-based work explores a combination of familiarity and discomfort, humor and depth, ease and anxiety. Her work often incorporates sculpture and installation with vibrantly colored, meticulously constructed sets to question popular culture and commercial photography techniques.
Since the late 1970s, Skoglund has been celebrated for her panoramic installations—entire environments that she designs, constructs, and then re-visualizes photographically. With a strong interest in examining how the camera sees compared to how the human eye sees, Skoglund arranges the props in her sets to play and experiment with the camera’s eye. “Photography, as a moment in time, introduces rigid pictorialism into the multiple viewpoints of sculptural perception,” Skoglund explains. “An installation is a lot more forgiving than the photographic element, which requires endless fussing with details as they appear within the frame. There’s a discerning eye that comes into play because photography translates sculpture in a totally different way.”
A pioneer of installation photography, Skoglund’s psychedelic pop tableaux frequently make use of bright colors, surrealist imagery and a wide variety of media. To design her mind-bending compositions, Skoglund has built sets using Cheetos, covered walls in bacon and made floors out of eggs. She has hand-molded electric green cats for her landmark work, Radioactive Cats, and hung bright red fish from ceilings in Revenge of the Goldfish to capture her immersive, startling photographs that bear her fingerprints from start to finish. Revenge of the Goldfish was first exhibited to the public at Castelli Graphics, in 1981. Her Food Still Lifes series considers the staging and arranging of traditional still life compositions through the lens of 70s consumer culture in ten high-anxiety images.
Relentlessly inventive in both her subject matter and method, Skoglund continuously challenges herself to experiment with new creative technologies, always in search of the medium best suited for her message. Her more recent immersive project, Winter, was a result of ten years of experimenting with various forms of clay modeling and 3D-printing, resulting in a multifaceted project that includes sculpture, installation, and photography.
Skoglund’s work has been published in Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang (DK Publishing, 2014) and The Photography Book (Phaidon, 2014). Selected images from Food Still Lifes are included in the Aperture publication Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography (Aperture, 2017) as well as an accompanying traveling exhibition of the same name, curated by Susan Bright and Denise Wolff.
Skoglund studied studio art and art history at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and received her BA in 1968. She then studied filmmaking, intaglio printmaking and multimedia art at the University of Iowa, receiving her MA in 1971 and her MFA in painting in 1972. She lives and works in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In 2019, Skoglund’s work was featured in the solo exhibition Sandy Skoglund. Hybrid Visions, curated by Germano Celant, at the Centro Italiano per la Fotografia in Turin, and in 2010 the Fotografiska Museum in Stockholm held The Artificial Mirror, a survey of works by Sandy Skoglund. She has further exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, Metz, France (2022); Château de Tours, France (2022); Denver Art Museum, CO (2022); Fotografiska Tallinn, Estonia (2022); McNay Art Museum, TX (2021); Aperture Foundation, NY (2018); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2016); Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2015); The Morgan Library, NY (2014); Whitney Museum of American Art, NY (2002); Bordeaux Museum of Contemporary Art, France (1993); Aspen Art Museum, CO (1992); and Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN (1982), among others.
Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Centre Pompidou, France; Chicago Art Institute Museum, IL; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Fondation Nationale d’Art Contemporain (FNAC), France; Groninger Museum, Netherlands; High Museum, GA; J. Paul Getty Museum, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; McNay Art Museum, TX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Mjellby Museum, Sweden; Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, MO; Wadsworth Atheneum, CT; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; and Yale University Gallery, CT, among others.