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By Alex Novak and Matt Damsker
Solarized Stripe, New York City
Solarized Stripe, New York City

Jerry Spagnoli was born in 1956 and currently lives and works in New York City. He received his art education at the San Francisco Art Institute.

One of the world's foremost contemporary daguerreotypists, Spagnoli explores traditional themes, shooting street scenes, figure studies and some portraits, but in a very untraditional, postmodernist way.

He is a photographer with strong ties to the art community. He has recently collaborated with artist Chuck Close on a series of portraits. He has also been helpful to contemporary artist Adam Fuss in that artist's own daguerreotype work.

Spagnoli has had several major one-man shows and continues to participate in major group shows on alternative processes. His work reflects his modern environment in a way that requires the viewer to look more intensely.

Spagnoli offers an eloquent and somewhat mystical rationale for utilizing the prototypical medium of daguerreotype: "The image…is not in a steady state like other photographs. It is elusive, fugitive…it remains a potential image until it is presented under the correct optical/spatial conditions…and the light from a scene in the past strikes your eye like new." But in the end these images must speak for themselves, and so they do, powerfully and beautifully.

At their most dramatic, as in shots of New York City sky and sun above skyscrapers, Central Park, or the East River, the azure and cobalt blues that result from intentional overexposure convey a dreamlike beauty seeping through the austere sepia of the daguerreotype. This effect, at its best in subtle yet startling slivers of blue light that activate the stolid architecture and solid geometry of the subject matter, makes a seamless connection between photography's beginnings and its postmodernist project.

Spagnoli's work is featured in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Getty Museum, the Hallmark Photographic Collection and the Museum of the City of New York. It has also been exhibited at the Boston University Art Gallery and the George Eastman House.

His book "Jerry Spagnoli--Daguerreotypes" was printed and distributed by German publisher Steidl.