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Contemporary art

Western art


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from the series My ghost



Adam Fuss

England, Australia, United States of America

1961 -


Adam Fuss is a distinguished international artist whose body of work is notable, not only for its continued concerns with themes of life, death and transcendence, but also for its utilisation of historical photographic methods such photograms and daguerreotypes. In Fuss’s case his daguerreotypes tend to be large.

Fuss has participated in numerous group exhibitions around the world including the Whitney Biennial (1991), Prospect Frankfurt (1989 & 1996), The Photography of Invention (1989) and In Camera (1993). Fuss has also had his work featured widely in solo exhibitions across America including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2006), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2002-2003), Fraenkel Gallery (2005), and Cheim Read Gallery (1999, 2003 & 2010). Important retrospectives of his work have been exhibited at the Fotomuseum Winterthur in 1999 and at Huis Marseille, Museum for photography, Amsterdam in 2011. Fuss' work is held in numerous private and public collections around the world, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

This image, from the series 'My Ghost', eloquently represents many of the artist's concerns. It is a daguerreotype (a complex first form of 19th century photography) of a swan. The use of the daguerreotype technique references the idea of a 'mirror with a memory' or, in a discursive sense, a presence through absence. The swan can be read historically as a mythical creature alluding to love and death: wings poignantly bent in suspension, floating like an apparition. It is a further extension of the artist's preoccupation with incorporating the natural world within his work. For example, other series (mainly photograms) have used rabbit entrails, smoke and spores. In this instance the subtle beauty of the image, with the swan hovering in a sea of soft blue hues and milky whites, resonates with a spiritual quality




Media category


Materials used



26.0 x 33.9 cm visible image/plate; 38.1 x 45.9 x 4.2 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated label l.l. verso frame, blue pencil "[artist's signature]/ 2000/ ...".


Purchased with funds provided by Amanda and Andrew Love, Lisa and Egil Paulsen, Mike Hawker, Michael Magnus, James Erskine, David Coe, Michael and Katharine Hughes, Maryanne Pagent, Photo Technica, Photo King Professional Lab, Wheen Family, and the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2001


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Adam Fuss

Works in the collection


Referenced in 2 publications


Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Magical realism', pg.226-245, Sydney, 2007, 230 (colour illus.), 243 (colour illus.).

Natasha Bullock, Look, 'Swan Imagery - new ways with old techniques', Melbourne, Oct 2001, 11 (colour illus.).