Sandi Fellman’s work has often focused on the natural world. By taking singular flowers and insects into the studio, Fellman transforms her subjects into abstract studies of shape, color and form. Simultaneously, these images are a 21st century play on 19th century botanical and entomological illustrations. Gone are the required facts and details present in naturalist illustrations. They are replaced by a contemporary, modernist vision of fleeting moments, butterflies on the move, glimpses of flowers, and a purposeful abstraction.
Fellman reflects on her work:
Photographs from the series “Deception” loosely explore the visual ambiguity and interconnections between plants and insects. The 20th century French philosopher Deleuze, writes extensively on “the orchid and the wasp”, cross pollination, sexual deception. The notion that things are always in a state of “becoming” have been inspirational to me within the creation of this series. Deleuze refers to an “origami cosmos” constantly in a state of folding, unfolding, and refolding. These ideas have created a structural framework for this work. In the end, it is the isolation of the intense fragile beauty of the subjects, and the infinite ways in which they resemble each other that compels and moves me to make these images.
Grace Glueck wrote of Fellman’s work in the New York Times: “Ms. Fellman’s poetic ways with the camera have been evident in earlier series of pictures, and these photographs continue the delicate less-is-more elegance that has characterized her work. Nor has her skill abated in conveying the core of her deceptively simple subject matter.” Fellman’s photographs are in numerous permanent collections including The Museum of Modern Art, NYC, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, La Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Houston Museum of Art.
Sandi Fellman's 20 x 24 inch Polaroid photographs of the heavily tattooed Irezumi in Japan have inspired and informed generations of tattoo artists in the West. The American Museum of Natural History included these photographs in its “Body Art" exhibit. Fellman's monograph, The Japanese Tattoo (Abbeville Press, 1986), is now in its 10th printing. Other books by Sandi Fellman: Open Secret (Edition Stemmle, Zurich, Switzerland, 1999), Baby (Rizzoli, 2000) and A to Z Do You Ever Feel Like Me? (Dutton Children’s Books, Penguin Putnam, 1999).