Nature Morte: Photographs by Bruce Katsiff
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"Nature Morte: Photographs by Bruce Katsiff"
Hardcover: 82 pages
Publisher: Delaware Art Museum; 1st edition (2014)
Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.5 inches
“I find great beauty in my subjects,” says photographer Bruce Katsiff. With these words, Katsiff joins a long line of artists whose work is both challenge and invitation. By confronting what we most fear, Katsiff opens the door to a world of terror and wonder where traditional notions of beauty and grace are turned upside down.
Bruce Katsiff’s studio is a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Every nook and cranny is filled with cigar boxes, animal bones, and birds’ nests, often spotted by friends in flea markets or harvested during walks in the countryside near the artist’s Bucks County, Pennsylvania, home. Katsiff is fascinated with what remains when the proverbial “breath of life” has departed. Using studio view cameras as large as 20 by 24 inches, he patiently fabricates and photographs his large-scale meditations on death and life, eventually rendering them as platinum/palladium prints, one of the most venerated processes in the history of photography. In recent years, he has combined both digital and analog technologies, retaining the richness and warmth of platinum while allowing for the endless flexibility of bytes and pixels.
In this first major publication on his Nature Morte series, Katsiff—recently retired director/CEO of the James A. Michener Art Museum—returns to his roots as an artistic seeker, a life that he continued to practice quietly despite a distinguished career as educator, administrator, and museum professional. With an insightful essay by Delaware Art Museum curator Heather Campbell Coyle, a foreword by Peter Barberie, Brodsky Curator of Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a brief history of the platinum process by photographer Thomas Shillea, this book turns our attention toward our darkest fears, and there we find, as Katsiff, says, “a design and grace beyond the reach of man’s ability to create or understand.”