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Sandy Skoglund. Biography. -1946 born in Quincy, Massachusetts -1964-1968 undergrad at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; studied studio art and art history -1969-1972 grad school at University of Iowa; studied filmmaking, intaglio printmaking, and multimedia art

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-1946 born in Quincy, Massachusetts

-1964-1968 undergrad at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; studied studio art and art history

-1969-1972 grad school at University of Iowa; studied filmmaking, intaglio printmaking, and multimedia art

-1972 moved to NYC, working as a conceptual artist

-late 1970s taught herself photography; wanted to document her conceptual ideas

-deals with repetitive, process-oriented art production through the techniques of mark-making and photocopying

-developing interest in photographic technique plus interest in popular culture and commercial picture making strategies resulted in the directorial tableau work that she’s renowned for

-Skoglund currently lives in Jersey City, New Jersey and teaches Installation Art at Rutgers University

list of shows post 2001
List of Shows (post 2001)

SOLO EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS (limited to post-2001)

  • 2005 Galerie Rabouan Moussion, Paris,France. Oct. 27- Dec. 31, 2005.
  • The Guy Bartschi Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland, Mar.17-May 14, 2005.
  • The Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia, May-July 2005.
  • The New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, Summit, New Jersey: Sandy Skoglund, installations Raining Popcorn and Breathing Glass, inaugural exhibition in renovated galleries, catalogue with text by April Kingsley.
  • 2004 The New York Hall of Science, The Tree of Trees, permanent commissioned installation, opening to the public October 2004 within context of major architectural expansion.
  • Rockford College, Rockford, Illinois, Uncommon Lives , workshop installation and photographs.
  • Copia, The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, Napa, California. Enchanting the Real,
  • solo exhibit w/ installation Picnic On Wine and other works; curated with essay by Sarah Tanguy. Jan. 30- April 12, 2004.
  • Museum of Glass, International Center for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, Washington. Breathing Glass and
  • Raining Popcorn, installations Jan. 24 – April 18, 2004.
  • 2003 Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, Calif. Breathing Glass installation Oct. 3, 2003 - Jan. 4, 2004.
  • Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colo. Breathing Glass, installation. March 14 - May 3, 2003.
  • 2002 Rule Gallery, Denver, Colorado. Solo exhibition of photographs, Sept. 6 – Nov. 2, 2002.
  • Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio. Shimmering Madness, installation purchase for permanent collection.
  • B & D Gallery, Milan, Italy. Walking On Eggshells, installation. March 22-May 25, 2002. Installation of
  • Walking On Eggshells purchased by Fondazione la Gaia, Milan, Italy, permanent collection.
  • Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, Raining Popcorn installation, Apr. 6-Aug. 11, 2002.
  • Hunter Museum, Chattanooga, Tenn., Breathing Glass installation, Dec. 2, 2002 – Feb. 28, 2003.
  • Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, N.Y., Breathing Glass installation, Feb. 16, 2002 – April 21, 2002.
  • 2001 Janet Borden Gallery, Inc., N.Y., N.Y., Oct. 17-Nov. 24, 2001, Raining Popcorn installation
  • Faulconer Gallery of Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. Raining Popcorn installation and photograph commissioned by the Faulconer Gallery of Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.
  • Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Mass., Liquid Origins, Fluid Dreams: bathroom interior. Permanent
  • Installation.
  • Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia. Contemporary Masters Series. Shimmering Madness
  • installation and photographs Bergen Hall Gallery, January 20-March 17, 2001.
list of shows post 2001 cont d
List of Shows (post 2001-cont’d)

GROUP EXHIBITIONS (limited to post 2001)

2005 Collection 2, Fondation Pour l’Art Contemporain Claudine at Jean-Marc Salomon, Chateau Arenthon,

Alex, France, March 17-June 3, 2005.

2004 Undomesticated Interiors, Smith College Museum of Art, Oct. 31, 2003-Jan. 4, 2003

Reprotech, at the New York Academy of Sciences, N.Y.C. April 8- June 18, 2004. curated by Suzanne Anker, reviewed in New York Times, Arts and Ideas May 8, 2004.

2003 Sweet Tooth. At COPIA: The American Center, Napa, California, Curated by Sarah

Tanguy , Jan. 30 – May 11, 2003.

From Start to Finish. At the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York. Curated by Sarah Tanguy.

Aug. 10 – Oct. 29, 2003

2002 Visions from America: Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1940-2001. The Whitney

Museum of American Art, N.Y.C. June 27, 2002 - September 22, 2002.

Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at 50. traveling group exhibition October 2002 – October 2006, organized by

Aperture Magazine, N.Y.C.

Postflesh. Art Museum of Cal. State University of Sacramento. Curated by Rachel Clarke. Nov. 18 – Mar. 21, 2003.

Glassway, Les Salles du Verre. From Antiquity to the present. Musee Archeologique Regional d’Aoste, Italy. Curated by Maurizio Sciaccaluga. June 15 – October 27, 2002.

True Fictions, Inszenierte Fotokunst der 1990er Jahre, curated by Michael Kohler. Traveling exhibition

throughout Northern Europe.


“I think I am most fond of the unseen part. I mean that the various cultural experiences that I go through, and the behavioral aspects of getting the work done, are just as important as the installation and the photograph. So, for me, the relationship between the two is more about hybridism and the search for an ideal form that I'm never going to arrive at. The installation and the photograph are mere approximations of this ideal.”


Her Works

Almost all of her pieces involve food. She doesn’t use food to comment on its nurturing purpose or on consumerism. She uses food because it is a recognizable material whose identity she can transform by changing its function.

She juxtaposes an absurd amount of one object, almost always food or animals, into an otherwise mundane environment occupied by human characters who are unaware of the object.

“an antic dream world of ordinary life gone seriously awry.”

"[Skoglund] creates works with a pop art flavor and a surreal anxiety. She heightens reality and illusion simultaneously. Her work is utterly straightforward and simple, yet devilishly complex. She emphasizes artifice while drawing art from life," Judith Van Baron.

“Her work offers a complex dynamic that is parody and convention, experiment and treatise.”

“Skoglund referred to the fact that she does not preconceive her installations and, during the making process which can take over six months, meaning evolves for the artist.

“I try to stay in touch with reality and at the same time try arid interfere with it, like Magritte does.”


Revenge of the Goldfish (1981)

Critic Nan Richardson described "Revenge of the Goldfish" as "a boy’s dream fantasy of flying fish.”

Models in photograph are actually mother and son. This conjures up mixed interpretations, anywhere from the artwork being about the boy’s sexual awakening, to a reference to Freud’s notion of the Oedipus complex, to the “spiritual sterility of day-to-day existence against a vivid natural force which swims from the shelves, drawers and window casements.”

The artist said that the idea for "Revenge of the Goldfish" began with her

childhood memory of going to her parents' bedroom and waking them up

on weekends.

Skoglund said that after she had sculpted the 126 fish, they reminded her

of flames, and she painted them a vivid orange for a "hot" look, and thus

they became goldfish.

This piece shows the duality of man and nature, of reality and fantasy, of rationality and irrationality. This and many of her earlier works are made up of two main colors. Deviates from this method in her later works.


Shimmering Madness (1998)

"The piece is really about the sensation of all-at-onceness, of simultaneous stimulation," Skoglund said.

"It’s almost like a spacecraft landing on earth," Skoglund said. "First you see the planet, then as it gets closer, you see the continents, and so on. I’m really interested in new information being disclosed as you get closer.”

This is a permanent installation at Rutgers, and it includes thousands of multi-colored silk and Mylar butterflies on a black background. Their wings, operated by a device hidden within the installation, flutter every now and then, creating a crescendo of sound. Two mannequins covered in colorful jellybeans are frozen in action in the middle of the candy-covered floor and butterfly-covered walls. As you get closer to the installation, you realize that the heads of the mannequins are all turned nightmarishly backwards.

“Shimmering Madness” is significantly more immersive than “Revenge of the Goldfish” and her other earlier works. Nearly all the senses are stimulated, either directly or indirectly: sight of the bright colors, sound of wings, smell of candy, implied taste of all the candy, implied feeling of fluttering wings.

There is still a duality in this work that recalls Skoglund’s past works. "Shimmering Madness" encompasses both organic and artificial themes: natural beings made of synthetic food products and organic butterflies represented by artificial hand-painted insects.


“I photograph the pieces and installations myself. I don't feel that since I took the photographs means that everything else is meaningless and that only the photograph is the work of art. I don't think the taking of a photograph cancels out the meaning and impact of the thing that you photographed. I end up with a hybrid existence where the photograph represents the work in a certain way, and the installation represents the work in a certain way.”

-Most of Skoglund’s installations are immediately taken apart once they have been photographed. With regard to what we’ve discussed about commodification and replicability, does the fact that her cibachrome prints are tangible and reproducable make the prints more or less of an artwork?

Skoglund’s surreal installations fall under the category of dream-scene. The audience members are merely spectators. There is a disconnect between viewer and environment; the viewer is outside of the situation looking in on the mannequins.

-Skoglund mentioned that her art is reminiscent of theme parks. Based on the category her installations fall under, how would you evaluate her claim?


Sandy Skoglund Larry Qualls Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, Bodies of Work. (Jan., 1994), pp. 102-106.

Working in the Black Box: Meaning-Making and Artmaking. Sydney Walker Art Education, Vol. 50, No. 4, Literacy, Media, and Meaning. (Jul., 1997), pp. 23-24+33-38.