For the last twenty-five years, Lynn Stern has been photographing skulls, both human and animal, some clearly recognizable and some highly abstract. Skull presents the resulting eight series – several of which have never been seen and some not previously seen in their entirety. Her images often include the symbolic form of the circle, alluding to both the emptiness of infinity as well as the possibility of oneness. Formally distinct yet overlapping thematically, these series offer a powerful exploration of the idea of death. Unlike many photographers, Stern has no interest in representing people, places or things, aiming instead to ‘de-literalize whatever I photograph.’
An extended essay by renowned art critic Donald Kuspit contextualizes Stern’s work within art history through comparisons with paintings, sculptures and photographs made during the last seven centuries of Western art. It accompanies nearly 150 tritone and quadratone reproductions of Stern’s photographs, as well as over forty illustrations of other artists’ work.