Peter Neumann’s Artist Statement
I grew up in a creative family. My father was a still life oil painter, a photographer and glove designer. My mother was a musician. The house was filled with Flemish paintings, French provincial furniture from the late 1700’s and stained glass. My father wanted me to study accounting in college, no doubt to bypass the instability of an artist’s life. Instead, I majored in English Literature at Northeastern University in Boston and then went on to study guitar.

My first experiences with photography began with my father and our Makina Plaubel in the 1950’s. There were also my father's slideshows from business trips to Europe. Those were long evenings... My father and I never played ball: we went to museums. I tell people I had the Modern memorized when I was 10.

My own work began much later with what I call the “found image”, using 35mm cameras to capture the world around me. The landscapes I shot with 4 x 5 and 8 x10 view cameras were in this category too, but the zone system allowed me more control. The process expanded in 1982 when I started shooting still life in my commercial still life studio. Props on interesting surfaces lit with strobe lights allowed me to invent images. Next came illustration using 3D software along with Photoshop and several other programs, where scenes were totally fabricated. Objects were built and lit in a digital environment, sometimes using scanned materials or photographs to create textures and image maps for virtual surfaces. To sum up: my visual evolution progressed from the found image to the invented image.

What’s been interesting is to see the influence different disciplines have had on each other. My Dune photographs taught me how to light nudes in the studio. Still life cross lighting to pick up textures on products gave me the sensitivity to see what later became my Utah landscapes. The world of 3D forced me to look at the world around me more carefully than I ever had to before because I had to build objects from scratch, such as a microscope or croquet set, and because had to create texture maps in order to make them look realistic.

I always wondered how my experience in making illustrations would influence my photography once I got back to it. After a break of 16 years I’ve begun to shoot with a digital camera. The work is more abstract and colorful than I expected and it is more manipulated, and this is just the beginning…again.
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