5 Art Stars You Need to Know

04/13/2011 4:00 AM |


2010 was a big year for the Long Island-born, Woodstock-raised, New York-based photographer David Benjamin Sherry: after being featured in over 20 group exhibitions throughout the city since 2006, when he entered Yale’s MFA program, he not only made a strong impression in MoMA PS1’s quinquennial emerging artists-vetting salon Greater New York, but had his stateside solo debut (after shows in Berlin and Vienna) at East Hampton’s trendy non-profit gallery The Fireplace Project. He dabbles in fashion photography—shooting for I-D, Another Man and others—which makes sense given the beautiful young, naked bodies populating the technicolor landscapes in many of his fine-art photos.

Sherry is a die-hard analog purist in the age of digital manipulation, which wouldn’t be so astounding if his carefully staged photos didn’t emerge from the darkroom with dazzling palettes, abstract mirroring effects and unnatural monochrome tints. He makes plentiful use of makeup, as in the self-portrait “Blueballs” (2010)—his bust completely covered in royal blue with a matching backdrop and gag-ball clutched in his mouth—which might have been a porny parody of the Blue Man Group if not for the vulnerable look in his light-blue eyes. In “Wake Me Up On Oh Phenomena” (2010) he lies naked face down on a cliff, covered entirely in yellowish-orange makeup so that he nearly blends into the rocks under a surreally blue sky.

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Much of his work has a genuine and revelatory tone undercutting the lush colors and often spectacular locations. Sherry’s outdoor shots are mostly taken on road trips—more spartan and quasi-spiritual than Ryan McGinley‘s, more personal than Ansel Adams‘s—especially to national parks. His studio-based works allow him to incorporate his sculptures, which are similarly playful while being neither pretentious nor flippant. This year he’s showing work in Aspen, Rome and Moscow, affording him many more road trips as we await his solo debut in New York.


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