Photographer Adam Fuss draws upon the earliest chapters of his medium’s technical history. His double portrait of James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett, seen here, resembles a silhouette portrait, an artform that was extremely popular during the decades before photography’s introduction. Typically cut from black paper, these silhouettes translated fleeting shadows into lasting images, offering a means of preserving sitters’ profiles for posterity while rendering them with great fidelity—much like photography would later accomplish. Where traditional silhouettes entailed a painstaking process of hand tracing, Fuss’s update of the practice (made without a camera, as is typical of his work) instead records light and shadows that have been cast directly onto photosensitive paper.
As longtime art patrons, Cottrell and Lovett have built an extensive collection of work by downtown New York artists from the past fifty years. In 2021 the Grey Art Gallery was pleased to announce a major gift from them, which includes over 200 artworks and will enable the creation of the Cottrell-Lovett Study Center, where researchers, faculty, and students will have more direct access to the New York University Art Collection.