Surreal Scenes Unfold in Sandy Skoglund’s Vibrant and Otherworldly Photographs — Colossal


#Sandy Skoglund

November 29, 2023

Kate Mothes

“Revenge of the Goldfish” (1981). All images © Sandy Skoglund, courtesy of Paci Contemporary, shared with permission

For more than five decades, Sandy Skoglund has explored a fusion of photography, installation, and conceptual art. The artist’s elaborately detailed scenes, built from a wide variety of materials, from furniture to papier-mâché to food, take months—sometimes years—to complete. One iconic image portrays two children in a blue bedroom, surrounded by bright orange goldfish, while in “Radioactive Cats,” we find ourselves peering at a couple in a gray kitchen as they go about normal activities among a clowder of glowing, green felines.

A new exhibition, The Imaginary Worlds of Photography, at Palazzo del Duca in Senigallia, Italy, celebrates Skoglund’s career through a survey of her remarkable photographs, emphasizing her attunement to the relationships between hues and contrasts, her subjects, and elements of each set. Often combining sculptural methods with a photographic aesthetic related to commercial advertising, she welcomes us into surreal and uncanny tableaux where instead of a clear narrative, we find realms of baffling wonder.

The Imaginary Worlds of Photography continues through June 2, 2024. Find more of Skoglund’s work on her website and Instagram.


A photograph by Sandy Skoglund of a cocktail party in a set where everyone and everything is covered in Cheetos.

“The Cocktail Party” (1992)

A fine art photograph of a gray kitchen interior with two elderly figures. A man is seated a table and a woman peers away from the viewer into a fridge. Numerous bright green cats run around.

“Radioactive Cats” (1980)

A fine art photograph featuring two people in a tableau of a living room with a table, ceiling fan, and chairs. A young child sits on the ground. Everyone and everything is covered in fuzzy black dots.

“Atomic Love” (1992)

A fine art photograph of a surreal blue interior. Two figures stand on the ceiling and appear to be floating or falling, and other figures made from mosaic glass appear to be hanging from the ceiling, too.

“Breathing Glass” (2008)

A surreal fine art photograph of a family out walking their dog in a forest where the trees have the bodies of humans.

“Fresh Hybrid” (2008)

A fine art photograph of a surreal scene in which two people appear to be dancing, both wearing red velvet outfits. In the center is a large red velvet wedding cake.

“The Wedding” (1994)

A fine art photograph of two women stepping over a bathroom floor covered in eggs. The floor also has numerous snakes and rabbits.

“Walking on Eggshells” (1997)

A surreal fine art photograph of a family in the corner of a room, coated in blue paper with snowflakes everywhere. In the foreground are figures of a young girl and some owls, also with snowflakes on them.

“Winter” (2018)

#Sandy Skoglund


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