Famous Photographers – Sandy Skoglund

Sandy Skoglund

Sandy Skoglund’s work is collected in museums and shown in galleries all over the world. Sandy has taught photography at some of the most prestigious art schools in the country. Her work is also very narrative, but the stories or the fiction in her work take on the form of dream imagery or the surreal (that which lies underneath reality) more than history and mythology. Sandy Skoglund’s photography is unlike many earlier photographers that worked at capturing the moment or having photography be a window to reality like Elliot Erwitt or Cartier Bresson. Instead of a photography that is reactive to the environment around her Skoglund fabricates or makes her reality by building sets and constructing elaborate spaces that she then photographs. In this way, along with the other narrative photographers that we looked at earlier (Wall, Sherman, and Crewdson) Skoglund’s photographs are more proactive than reactive.

One thing that is interesting about her work is that the truth value of the photographic image (is it real or not?) is turned upside down. When you look at her work, not including the True Fiction Two series, you think that you are looking at extreme digitally manipulated images when in fact she has actually photographed a real environment. The images that you see in the “The Cocktail Party” and “Revenge of the Goldfish” are not just digital creations and trickery they are actual constructed installations meticulously crafted, painted and then photographed. Amazing!

  1. Click here to see a PBS interview of Sandy Skoglund and a discussion of her creative process and her work: http://watch.thirteen.org/video/1616019357?ref=nf# 
  2. Click here to see Sandy Skoglund’s “True Fiction Two” series from 2004: http://www.sandyskoglund.com/pages/imagelist_fl/2004fl/index.html
  3. Click here to see her photographs from 79-84. Make sure to look at “Radioactive Cats” and “Revenge of the Goldfish” : http://www.sandyskoglund.com/pages/imagelist_fl/1979_84fl/index.html
  4. Click here to see her photographs from 92-95. Make sure to look at “The Cocktail Party” and “The Wedding” : http://www.sandyskoglund.com/pages/imagelist_fl/1992_95fl/index.html

Answer the following questions:

  • Color is very important in Sandy Skoglund’s work. How does color contribute to what she is trying to do in her images.?
  • How is color functioning in the True Fiction Two series and why do you think she uses it the way that she does?

Author: Dan

Dan teaches computer networking and security classes at Central Oregon Community College.

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