Who knew that Jeff Sessions was such a talented shutterbug? The 84th US Attorney General surprised the art world recently with his penchant for producing striking, and sales-fetching fine art photography.
Sessions' simple, yet elegant large scale black and white photograph of clouds caught multiple collectors' eyes at Phillips' 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale last month in London, approaching six figure bids, unheard of for an artist of his age. The image, ["Untitled (Freedom Clouds), 2017"] ultimately sold for £89K to an anonymous collector.
"Sessions' work fuses old and new world approaches," says Phillips Deputy Chairman, Americas and Worldwide Head of Photographs, Vanessa Hallett. "While many may see his politics as outdated, I think they offer a seasoned, alternative perspective to an art world that is often focused on pushing the boundaries of 'hip and edgy' -- and they look great above the couch!"
"There are some complex metaphors in this work," says Charlotte Cotton, independent curator, and last year's curator-in-residence at NYC's International Center of Photography. "The clouds are always with us, watching, looming above in their abstraction. It's an ominous, yet comforting constant in these trying times. And their subtle nod to the legacies of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston is deliciously smart."
Sessions' work offers an unseen angle on the everyday, and holds populist appeal, not only to the expected blue chip collectors and the elites of of the art world's urban centers, but to a wider audience who appreciate his accessible, "everyman" vision. Following the success of former president George W. Bush's outsider-artist paintings, Sessions' high bids at Phillips note an interesting premonition of what might trend next.
But not all critics have been positive.
“It looks like a very naive approach to photography...” said Michael Weiss, Associate Dean for Fine Arts at Maryland Institute College of Art, stressing that Sessions' technique felt amateur. "It's like the work of someone who was raised on an analogue process, and still struggles to accept the invention of the digital camera, let alone mobile photography or Instagram," he adds.
Will Sessions soar into the canon of art-photography history or expire as an of-the-moment? We hear he's working on a top-secret "color-blind" series, but only time will tell.
BTW - This was originally published on April 1st, 2017. Hope we fooled you. Cloud photo illustration courtesy of Shutterstock.