— Bjarke Ingels, Graphis, Issue 358
¬Not only is his art the perfect encounter between technical invention and perfection - and aesthetic and expressive exploration. His 1:1 animals - that are essentially hyper realistic portraits of animals reproduced in full scale - seem at first like ordinary animal photography. But by having eliminated their natural habitat - the jaw dropping beauty and forms and textures of the biosphere become enjoyable in all their complexity. The animal like an objet trouvé in the art gallery. And then you realize that they are actually paintings rather than photographs - because it is a photograph that is impossible to take - its resolution defies all existing technology. So the elephant is photographed and then repainted in post by putting together tens or hundreds of details into a full scale - full resolution - full size elephant
Curiosity-wise, the Creature project has its roots in the dioramas at institutions like The Smithsonian and the Museum of Natural History that fascinated me as a kid, but aesthetically and informationally, it’s very much inspired by the illustrative indexing of 19th century naturalists. What appeals to me about Audubon’s drawings, for example, is the chance to view the subject outside of its environmental context, which can act as a barrier between the viewer and the animal. Modern imaging technology allows me to completely eradicate these boundaries by creating the most accurate two-dimensional representations of living things as a kind of photographic taxidermy, which is also why the images are presented at actual size. I’ve traveled all over the world to make the Creature images (from a garage in Montana to a wildlife preservation in Qatar); by utilizing a mobile studio, I’ve been able to place all the animals in the same conceptual space. Given the current environmental moment, the idea of creating an expanding document of the natural world seems particularly compelling.
Introduction By Graham Nash, 2007
The art of photography is about contact: contact with a fellow human being or contact with a particular scene or situation. This book speaks to me about the contact we have with the many different species that inhabit this planet with us.
Captured against a stark, white background, the creatures reveal the very essence of life itself in all its ragged glory. The astounding complexity of the creatures shown here makes one truly appreciate the beauty of the ongoing process of life itself: of evolution, and more specifically, of adaptation. Every single being in this book started life as a single-celled animal, only to evolve into what we see here. Each has become unique, and its originality demands attention.
It seems so fitting that the first photographs in “Creature” are of our closest relative from the animal kingdom, the chimpanzee. When we look at a chimpanzee, we see ourselves. What’s surprising is that the same is true for so many of these animals. As one wanders through this journey, it’s incredible to realize not only the enormous variety of animals that exist in this world, but the undeniable sense that, like us, they have some kind of soul. This is perhaps the other mystery of the animal kingdom—that in the midst of all its diversity and startling manifestations, when you look into the eyes of these animals you see their personality, and you feel connected.
Andrew’s process brings us face to face with these creatures with startling clarity, and is beautifully handled in the sensitive printing of this book. The white background itself acts as a part of the visual experience, removing any context other than Andrew’s visual sensibilities. As a collector, I enjoy being on the front edge of the wave of the photographic world with Daguerreotypes; on the back end, my work has been focused on expanding and perfecting photography in the digital world, and I find that Andrew’s work helps me hone my own personal vision.
It takes great courage, patience and skill to confront the animal kingdom and bring their beauty before our eyes; and I certainly hope you enjoy this book as much as I do. We’ve come a long way along this path of creation and it would benefit all of us to look closely at our animal friends, as these photographs force us to do, and to recognize ourselves in them.
Nevada Museum of Art included several film and photographic works from the Creature project in its Late Harvest exhibition, which juxtaposed contemporary art with 19thand 20th century landscape painting. The exhibition sought to simultaneously confirm – through historically significant wildlife paintings –and subvert – through contemporary art and photography –viewers’ preconceptions of the place of animals in culture.
— Leonard S. Marcus, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, 12/4/09
"Animal alphabets have long been a mainstay of children’s books, a resilient subgenre with a basic 26-part structure that provides ample room for all manner of graphic inventiveness. Zuckerman’s signature white backdrops and minimal captions rendered in crisp, clean Helvetica Bold suit the format well, leaving the way clear for readers to lock eyes..."
An unintended consequence of the publication of Creature was a strong interest from parents to share the book with children. The scale and volume of the original publication was cumbersome – so we re-approached the body of work with the intention of creating a program of books, games, and puzzles just for kids. The program was well received and gained multiple awards in the category including the Bank Street College of Education 2015 Best Books of the Year for the board books and the Time Top Ten of Everything 2009 for the ABC book.
— Ellen Degeneres, The Ellen Show, 12/18/07
"A friend of mine told me about this amazing, amazing book of animal portraits and uh when I saw the photos, I had to have the photographer on the show..."
- Book Credits:
- Andrew Zuckerman, Photographer.
- David Meredith, Designer.
- Justin Cohen, Retoucher.
- Shannon McDowell, Production.
- Veronica Madrigal, Production.
- Nick Lee, Production.
- Jackson Nash, Production.