Goblet Portraits 1977


The work of Zeke Berman demonstrates a truly unique eye in the world of photography. We are truly grateful to have such a talented artist on board, partaking in our upcoming auction.

Berman has honed his craft over the last 35 years, producing singular, studio-based photographs that reflect his long-standing interest in visual cognition and optics.

His work has evolved much over the years but always explores an intersection between sculpture, photography and drawing.

From the outset Berman received strong critical acclaim. His work has been collected, published and exhibited in galleries and museums such as MoMA, The Metropolitan, The Whitney, and Art Institute of Chicago. He has been featured in the first New Photography Exhibition at MoMA and has received multiple awards, including the Guggenheim, NEA and NYFA Arts Fellowships.

In the beginning

As a kid, Berman loved sculpture. He attended the High School of Music and Art and studied sculpture at the Philadelphia College of Art. He only backed into photography after graduating. To date he approaches photography as a studio based art and his sculptural training clearly plays an important part in his working process.

During his years in art school, conceptual art and minimalism were a fresh aspect of contemporary art. At that time, Berman began a developing fascination in perception theory –  a lifelong interest that involves questions of cognition, optical illusion and the evolution of the senses. The idea that an illusion can change in appearance,  right before our eyes, is equally fascinating and inspiring to him.

His study found its way into his working process when he began to experiment with a camera in the studio. Berman’s epiphany came when he discovered a deep mystery and possibility in the transformation of a three-dimensional construction into a two-dimensional photograph.

A cumulative process

The formal range of Berman’s work and his sculptural use of materials is varied, original and idiosyncratic. All his pieces are intricately designed and constructed in his studio.

Berman uses a 4X5 studio view camera  to create all his photography. The procedure is an old one that delivers extremely sharp, and clear prints, as well as images that are very realistic in the description of the materials used. The end result is often a photograph designed from a construction but with the appearance of a drawing.

His process is cumulative in nature – he makes photographic sketches constantly as he constructs and reconstructs, creating many, images as the work evolves. Intuition and spontaneity ensue throughout the process. We asked him how he knows when he has finally completed a piece.  His answer is that it simply feels complete.

Optical illusion

In the late 1970’s Berman had a direct interest in creating different kinds of illusion. His work from this period clearly demonstrates optical illusion and the transformation of three-dimension into two-dimension.

“Cup with Objects” from 1979 is a great example of 3D/2D play. All the objects fill up the frame up to the edge, however, one slight shift of the camera and the pieces wouldn’t work together.

Cup with Objects

“Web,” a piece from the late 80’s contains an actual spider web. It is a very linear, abstract work, and one that clearly depicts the flow from drawing to sculpture to photography. In fact, much of his work from this time period was very linear in nature.


Later pieces demonstrate the evolution and progression in his photography.

Take for example “Shoe and Tire,” a 1993 commission piece for Progressive Corporation, an auto insurance company. The company CEO is an avid art collector and commissioned Berman to create a suite of still life’s around which the company’s Annual Report was designed. He won several design awards for this work.

Shoe and Tire

“Heart,” created in 1995 was commissioned by graphic designer Mark Schwartz for his daughter who was born on Valentine’s day.


Although Berman rarely photographs people, “Standing Stack” from 1997 was made at a time when he wished to bring more human presence into his work.

Standing Stack

Berman lives and works in NYC. He now works mostly in color, a new turn in his evolving body of work.

To view the ArtistsinAuction website click here.

To view more of  Zeke Berman’s work, click here.

Plant Slice 1999

Fat Lamp and Cherry Blossoms 2008