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Born in New York City in 1957, Michael Somoroff is a prominent commercial director as well as an accomplished photographer and artist. His father, Ben Somoroff, was a celebrated commercial photographer who studied with Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art now the University of the Arts.
Somoroff studied art and photography at the New School for Social Research. In 1979, his Vegetable Series was exhibited at the International Center of Photography in New York City under the auspices of Cornell Capa. In the early 1980s, Somoroff headed for Europe, first settling in Paris and later establishing a successful studio in Hamburg, Germany, shooting virtually for every major publications. While a regular contributor to Der Spiegel, Stern, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Life and Elle, Somoroff worked on thematic personal projects, one being Kinder Europa (The Children of Europe) published in German with English translations (Nicolai, 1988).
After returning to New York City in the late 1980s, Somoroff began directing commercials, in particular those using "Tabletop" photography. His award-winning work includes commercials for Red Lobster, The Olive Garden, KFC, Burger King, Chili's, Dunkin' Donuts, Evian, and Dairy Queen. While making his mark as a director, Somoroff continued his artistic journey establishing himself as a New Media artist. Recognizing photography's ability to translate space/time into visual elements, Somoroff pushed the limits of the medium beyond its intrinsic figurative nature inventing and coining the term Photo-plastik. His exploration of light, movement and time, informed by computer technology and spiritual awareness, has led him to create conceptual and multi-layered bodies of work. His homage to both Marcel Duchamp and Gerhard Richter, Query, is highly regarded by Donald Kuspit in his critical review Somoroff and the Platonic Nude http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-5-05.asp
Somoroff has been the first artist invited to exhibit at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, and the only artist since Barnett Newman to have an installation on the grounds. In 2006 Somoroff created a large-scale outdoor sculpture Illumination I for the Chapel. In the exhibition catalog, art historian David Anfam writes: "Generated from an array of hi-tech software programs, hands-on collaborative expertise in the crafting of the sculpture proper, wide-ranging empirical observation and personal reflections both political and ontological in nature, Illumination I promises a rich physical experience graced with an equally distinctive metaphysical dimension. In this respect, Somoroff's project renews Rothko's artistic endeavor." In 2007, Illumination I was exhibited at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ct., in conjunction with the environmental video installation "Illumination" at the Bravin Lee Gallery, NYC. In 2008, Somoroff was commissioned to create an installation at the Saint Peter Art Center in Cologne, Germany, resulting in a large scale indoor piece made of thousands of wooden shards titled "The Red Sea,".
Somoroff’s work has been exhibited in major art fairs such as Arco, Art Cologne, Basel Art Fair, Art Miami, Armory Show, NYC., Fotofest Houston and Photokina among other venues. His nudes, portraits, and still life images are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Somoroff’s "Absence of Subject", his homage to the legendary photographer August Sander, was chosen as the only exhibit to be placed on Piazza San Marco during the 2011 Venice Biennale in the long artistic history of the city.
Michael Somoroff lives and works in New York City.
- Instituto Cervantes Presents United States of Banana; short film by Michael Somoroff, New York, December 2011
- David Anfam, Michael Somoroff: Illumination I at the Rothko Chapel