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Andres Serrano

BIOGRAPHY

1950-

Andres Serrano was born in New York. Religion played a significant part in his childhood - in school, at home and on the streets. After an initial school trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, young Serrano began returning to the museum on his own and became enamored with Renaissance painting, in particular its religious iconography. At age 15, he dropped out of high school with the ambition of becoming an artist and from 1967-1969 he attended the Brooklyn Museum of Art School. Attracted to painting and sculpture yet insecure about his technical abilities, Serrano focused on photography, with which he had become familiar in his position as art director.


From the beginning Serrano thought of himself as an artist using photography, and not as a photographer per se, the distinction being that he was not interested in documenting 'reality', but in creating his own. Influenced by the pre-war European art movements of Surrealism and Dada, the first images Serrano created (in 1983) were tableaux incorporating religious iconography, dead animals, raw meat and human subjects, amongst other elements.


Eventually Serrano turned to the genre of portraiture, creating several thematic bodies of work, each depicting various social groups. Drawing from the lexicon of advertising, fashion and even pornography, Serrano's large-format, highly saturated photographs aestheticize their subject matter, even when this is abject in nature. Like the images produced by his peers Cindy Sherman and Robert Mapplethorpe, Serrano's works often take on an iconic status, and are some of the most arresting images in contemporary photography.