"Homage", 2020

Allen Schill
Still-Life Photography and other media

Dear Visitor:  No need to read, if you're not so inclined.   The pictures are the thing, after all.  (I advised you to look at them on a fair-sized screen.)  The images below are linked to various galleries; with them you can browse visually.  Or choose from the menus and submenus at the left.  (Among them are a few "thumbnail index" pages with images that may likewise guide you visually.)  A blog, The Second Stone (which addresses much besides photography and art), is up there too, the last item on the menu.

Above, "A Brief History of the World", one of the tags cases, composed mainly of various historical photographs, and above that, "Homage", consisting of clippings of art from over the ages.

Allen Schill is an artist-photographer who has concentrated most of his efforts in highly-controlled studio still-life imagery, for years with the large-format view camera, and then with a digital studio camera.  While influenced by many sources in art history and the other arts, and in some ways very traditional at first glance (especially when compared to most contemporary art photography), his photographs are really not so conventional. They are not quick to take in.  They don't explain themselves.  They ask us to slow down, to observe and reflect, in a way we rarely do.  They refer to an interior space; the images themselves are only invocations of this.  
With this ongoing body of work, Schill hopes to be somehow reinventing the still-life genre for our time, and would like to persuade us that such a thing could still be important, and why.  In an age when we are inundated with images but have all but lost the ability to see or ponder, his is an art that avoids flashiness.  These works are not engendered in theory, but in experience - seen, thought, felt, lived - earnest and resolutely visual, an offer to somehow commune with the viewer.

Below, three examples from the menu "High-Definition Still LIfe", and below that, four more from "Deep-Focus Still Life":

Schill's work in still-life photography is highlighted in this site, but there is quite a bit more in other photographic genres, and in genres outside of photography in which he works from time to time.  Of the photographic there is a wide range - view-camera photographs of subtly rhythmic surfaces and of arrays that create a careful equilibrium among similar forms, abstractions that recall the paintings of the Abstract Sublime but whose derivation is purely photographic, images created not with a camera but with a scanner, oneiric photographs taken with a pinhole camera or a toy camera, multi-frame panoramic assemblages that recall the long scroll paintings of China and Japan, prints made by hand in palladium or with other historical processes, and assemblages of Polaroids of personal and family portraits and snapshots, to list the major groups.

In the first row below, two photographs from "View Camera Still Life, 2002-2008", and two from "Prime Arrangements 1997-2001".  The next row of three is from "Sui Generis:  Still Life, 1987-2001", and the next from "The Persistence of Memory".  The final row of four come from "Anthology and Rhythm" and "Minimalist Textures", two each.  All of these subjects were photographed with a view camera on large-format film.

Of the non-photographic work, mostly from the 1970s and 1980s, there are finely-detailed mandalas and other biomorphic motifs carried out in paint and in various drawing and printmaking media.  The printmaking includes zinc-plate etching and block printing, as well as inkless embossment, which combines the great intricacy of a carved block or etched plate with the near-invisiblility of an inkless impression on artist's paper.   With their unabashed mysticism and spirituality (more than just a sign of those times), they signal a set of interests that continued to emerge in later work in a more understated way - or completely transformed. There are also textural pieces made by incorporating dried flowers and other vegetation in a base of either paper pulp or acrylic medium.

Below, the first two images of the top row are from "Spectra", while the last of that row and all the second row are from "Digital Abstraction I" and "Digital Abstraction II".  Further below we have six examples of images created from scans, from "Pattern and Texture", "Small Objects and Materials", and "Natural Materials".

Relief, 2008 (detail)

Colored Rain (Piovuta), 2009 (detail)

Broadway Shake (Variant), 2009 (detail - with a nod to Piet Mondrian)

The point of this continuity is that, despite the outward variety of Schill's production over the course of the years, an attentive eye-mind will discern a conducting thread through it all, a sense in which the artist can always be seen to be doing essentially the same thing, even if the outward manifestation differs greatly. This of course does not mean simply that he repeats himself; rather, it is a sign of a consistency of inspiration and motive, the authenticity of the creative impulse, and a sign that this maker of images has always had a fairly clear idea of what he wants to do.

Allen grew up in suburban Long Island, attended Columbia College in New York, and earned the B.A. in art history and studio art.  He then completed the M.F.A. program at Lehman College of the City University of New York, working in painting, printmaking, and photography.  He served as an assistant to Irving Penn for two years, and taught photography for C.U.N.Y. for fifteen years as an adjunct professor.  Though a naturalized New Yorker, he relocated to Italy in 1996.  Always engaged in his personal artistic work, he has exhibited his work many times over the years and is represented in numerous collections.

But that's more than enough said - better to just go ahead and look at the pictures.  For more information, to leave a comment, or to just say hello, feel free to get in touch.

Top row, two examples of pinhole camera photographs, and two of toy camera photographs.  Second row, two examples of  photograms and cliché-verre, then two from "The Family of Man".  Third row, four from "Paper Pulp and Textural Acrylic Pieces", two using paper pulp and two using acrylic medium.

Below, four examples of multi-frame panoramic photographs (cropped somewhat at the extremities), one from each of the categories in the group:  "Italy and Ireland", "City Parks", "Suburban and Rural", and "Urban and Interiors":

Sculpture and Construction

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Sculpture and Construction

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Using Format