After Images: Amy Arbus
An ‘after image’ is an impression of a vivid image retained by the eye after the stimulus has ceased. For her fifth book of portraits, Amy Arbus has borrowed ideas from iconic modernist paintings by artists including Picasso, Cezanne, Munch, Schiele, and Modigliani, and transferred their visceral energy and psychological intensity to live staged scenes to be photographed. In order to replicate the powerful effects of the original paintings, she painted costumes, props, and the models themselves. What has materialized is a series of hybrid images that challenges the thin line between painting and art photography. Chiaroscuro lighting and lush colors produce dark trompe l’oeil portraits in which the live models appear to be trying to escape the confines of the two-dimensional world that holds them captive.