Photo-Transformation, 1976

Object Details


Photo-Transformation, 1976


Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece, 1936)






Polaroid SX-70 dye diffusion print


7.6 x 7.6 cm (3 x 3 in.)


© Lucas Samaras

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Submerged in narcissism, nothing remains . . . but "me and myself, I am my own audience, the other, contemplating my existence."

Made in the 1970s as a means of studying himself, Lucas Samaras's photographs illustrate the internal struggle that can occur between conflicting aspects of one personality. Bent over a captain's chair, Samaras rests his head as if he is at the guillotine. Another blurry form hovers above, about to violently attack the submissive figure.

Samaras made his Photo-Transformations, a series of self-portraits, with SX-70 Polaroid film. Still wet, the film's emulsions could be manipulated to alter the finished image. He used straight pins, rubber erasers, and other simple tools to "draw" into the developing surface. For this portrait, he created a diamond pattern over and around the dominant figure that underscores the frenzy of motion.

Tradition and Innovation: Recent Additions to the Photographs Collection (June 20 to October 8, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 20 to October 8, 2000
Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras (November 13, 2003 to February 8, 2004)
  • Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), November 13, 2003 to February 8, 2004
In Focus: Making a Scene (June 30 to October 18, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 30 to October 18, 2009