Andrew Zuckerman was visiting a friend in Orient Point, Long Island, more than a decade ago when he took what might be considered his first animal portrait. A severe snow storm had just blanketed the area, and Zuckerman and his wife were on a walk through the newly white landscape when they came across a dead bird. “It was laying on perfectly untouched white snow,” he remembers. Zuckerman ran back to the house to get his camera, then took a four-by-five image of the bird. “I never thought about what I was going to do with it,” he says. “I just kept thinking about why I liked it so much, about what white meant and why.”
Since then, white has become a signature of Zuckerman’s work, and Zuckerman’s work has become widely celebrated. For his first book, “Creature,” Zuckerman photographed a variety of animals against a stark white background, drawing out with striking detail both the differences and similarities between, say, the Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula, the North American Porcupine, and the Lion Head Goldfish. This series was soon followed by books on elders (“Wisdom”), on birds (“Bird”), on musicians (“Music”) and on flowers (“Flower”). “Anything I am interested in, I approach in this way,” Zuckerman says. “I somehow get my head around them and they become thoroughly explored. It’s not about picture taking or even picture making. It’s more about collecting data and presenting it in a reductive and clear way.”
Lately Zuckerman has also become interested in presenting his data in a more large-scale, democratic way. He is collaborating with the textile company Maharam to make an animal wallpaper, and he has also created a wall installation, 220 feet long and 16 feet high, that depicts 103 life-size animals. The installation can be shown in full or in sections and will eventually be able to wrap city blocks. “I love the idea of broad engagement,” Zuckerman says about the project, which brings together animals from different continents and sets them side by side. “It’s a blissful menagerie of animals.”
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