Seeing and Not Believing: The Photography of Allan Chasanoff


Mónika Sziládi

With a preface by Richard Ovenden

From the 1960s onward, Allan Chasanoff (1936–2020) maintained a daily photographic practice, producing tens of thousands of images that pushed the limits of the medium and questioned its reliability as a document of reality. Preferring to experiment away from the art world, Chasanoff rarely exhibited his photographs, his art remaining unknown to all but a select circle of friends and collaborators. This catalogue is the first to survey his beguiling work.

Artist Mónika Sziládi, who worked as an archivist for Chasanoff, contributes an outline of Chasanoff’s life and practice, tracing the development of his art from his early experiments with light, shadow, and color in his lens-shot photographs to his late-career foray into 3D printing, which he viewed as the latest frontier of photography. Influenced by the ideas of Marshall McLuhan and Jacques Derrida, Chasanoff understood photographic images to be full of multivalent symbolism, and his art highlights the fluid nature of the medium. Using analog optical effects, such as blurring and other distortions, and on-screen tools to cut and layer digital images, Chasanoff created a wide range of pictures, some of which reference or appropriate the work of artists like Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko, or Giorgio Morandi. With nearly 200 plates organized into 7 thematic sections, Seeing and Not Believing brings Chasanoff’s contribution to postmodern photography to a wider audience and underlines how the artist’s work challenges our assumptions about believing what we see.