Adam Fuss

Fuss took to the photogram after working in commercial photography. Disliking standard practices he attempts to return to the origins of the art to create his work. However, by using modern photographic paper, Fuss controls specific details of his work to create strong colours and effects that breathe new life into the early techniques.

His choice of subject is often unusual, with his work ranging from images of babies to dead rabbits. He uses many ‘live’ objects, embracing a very direct and hands-on approach. Often haunting and evocative, Fuss’ work ranges from abstract to obvious with many varieties in between. Vivid colours and depictions in some images are in contrast with stark black and white photograms as Fuss uses paper and techniques best for each image. Compositions are commonly quite ‘neat’, with clearly placed objects to display them as he wants, often with strong shapes and cutting contrasts.

Powerful images and colours are a trademark of Fuss, with sometimes strange ideas, such as the rabbits, in tidy symmetrical compositions.

‘Untitled’, Cibachrome Photogram, 2003
Fuss has become world famous for his photograms of babies. Placed in a shallow trough of water, their silhouetted shapes block the paper below from light, with every movement in the water documented with the accuracy of a photogram. There is a clear contrast between the colours, of which the simplistic arrangement of only two makes the difference all the more obvious. The pattern of the water gives a tactile feel to the piece, compared to the solid form of the baby. The nature of the process means, to many, the work’s method remains a puzzle.

Compositionally, the baby is in a crucifix position, and is surrounded by a colour Fuss has made so passionately red or bloody.

‘Untitled’, Silver Print Photogram, 2006
This black and white photogram is comparable to many similar pieces by Fuss, with white faces/masks. Composition is off centre, to create a more haphazard image with the strange hair and face it depicts. Tones range from white, with some grey mid-tones and a dense black background. The solid form makes a bold shape, and curves complement the sharp, jagged lines. The subject is a bizarre head, with almost ghost-like properties. Following on from earlier work, Fuss is inspired by the iconography of African masks, whose shapes and importance in their culture give great meaning.

‘From the series “My Ghost”’, Gelatin silver print photogram, 1999
Part of a group of images Fuss produced of Christening dresses. Simply and central composed these are basic images, their interest generated by the patterns in the lace fabric.

As the title may suggest, this seems quite a haunting piece, with a child’s dress floating, without body, in the dark.