A pioneer of experimental photography, German artist Floris Neusüss has devoted his entire career to the rigorous study, practice and teaching of the photogram technique. He is recognized as part of the photogram vanguard alongside predecessors Man Ray and Lázló Maholy-Nagy.
The artist’s iconic nudograms from the 1960s and 70s were made by exposing the human figure directly onto photographic paper. The proximity of the model to the paper influenced the sharpness of the contours and the amount of light dispensed affected the intensity of the tones. Movement—either accidental or intentional—dissolved and fractured the silhouettes into transcendent forms removed from any sense of time or place. Despite the subject’s absence, a palpable intimacy—or, presence—is felt. Such is the magic of a photogram.
A similar phenomena transpired when Neusüss applied the photogram technique to portraiture. Using friend and frequent collaborator, Robert Heinecken as the subject, the artist exposed Heinecken’s full body on profile. The work does not reveal any surface details and yet the expressive body language and attitude is uncannily recognizable. As Neusüss says, “If you knew Robert Heinecken, when you look at his portrait photogram, you automatically feel close to him.”
More recent work includes Nachtbilder—or, night pictures--produced by placing photo paper emulsion side down into a woodland or garden at night. At times created during a thunderstorm, lightning would expose the paper from all directions, catching gusts of impressions of flora, fauna and figures. A sense of movement and chaos transformed the familiar into something much more arresting; an aesthetic echoed throughout Neusüss’ career.
Floris Neusüss was born in 1937 in Remscheid Lennep, Germany. He has exhibited internationally for over fifty years and his work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. There are several monographs published on his work and he was a subject of an expansive illustrated volume produced in conjunction with the 2010-11 Victoria and Albert exhibition on the practice of five camera-less photographers. He was an influential teacher in Germany and recently retired as Professor of Experimental Photography at the University of Kassel, a post he had held since 1971.
Neusüss lives and works in Kassel, Germany with his partner Renate Heyne.