Neil Folberg’s career is one of constant innovation. His earliest work consists of earthy B&W images that document a people’s presence on their land, in Yugoslav Macedonia. After moving to Israel in 1976, he began a series of color landscape photographs that recall his mentor Ansel Adams, with whom he began studying at the age of 16, with their expansive view of the rugged landscape (“In a Desert Land”, Abbeville Press). From there, he looked up to the shimmering celestial dome which led to his unprecedented photographs of humanity standing at the edge of an infinite universe. (“Celestial Nights”, Aperture Press). Moving to a world of lit interiors, he was commissioned by Aperture to make a series of photographs of historic synagogues of the world. (“And I Shall Dwell among Them”, Aperture Press). He used that same lighting to evoke the colors and light of the French Impressionists in his innovative re-creation of their world (“Travels with Van Gogh and the Impressionists”, Abbeville Press). His current project places man on the stage of nature in brilliantly lit scenes that are scheduled for their first exhibition in March 2010 at Flomenhaft Gallery in New York.
©Neil Folberg 2009, from the current work
The art critics comment on Folberg's work
"The deserts of Israel, Egypt and Jordan seem never to have sat for a lens quite as magical as Neil Folberg's. Since 1979, this American photographer living in Jerusalem has been focusing on the arid lands of these Mideast countries, capturing not only their dramatic contours and colors but the dazzling light shows produced at night by the skies above them ... stygian skies ablaze with a zillion celestial bodies that spill down on ancient manmade ruins. Spectacular is not too effusive a word!”
-Grace Glueck, New York Times
“Wonderment is the ultimate subject of these photographs: separate exposures of landscape and sky digitally stitched together. As computer concoctions, they share a technique with the fashionable photographs of art stars like Andreas Gursky, for whom amazement is also the expected response and digital magic is part of the basic arsenal of the medium. Lest we forget, Adams, too, despite being the classic straightforward photographer, was a wizard with filters and tinkered with his prints. Photography, it turns out, has never really been about the truth; in the end, it has always been about awe. In Folberg's case, it is about a little of both. The awe derives from the mysterious effect of bringing the heavens near while making the earth look otherworldly - precisely the feeling you have while standing in a faraway landscape under a full sky at night. It is the feeling of being dumbstruck by the immensity of it all.”
“Neil Folberg's Impressionist inspired photographs at the Flomenhaft Gallery are quite beautiful, but beautiful in a full-hearted way contemporary art has taught us to be wary of. The pictures are nothing at all like Mr. Folberg's best-known earlier work, and it is unnerving to experience a photographer who can reorient himself to such an extent. There has been lively intercourse between painters and photographers since photography came into being, but I am not aware of another project as extensive and thorough as Mr. Folberg's. He immersed himself in the culture and history of late 19th century France and the lives and works of the Impressionists: the landscapes they painted, the living rooms and ateliers where they lived and worked, and their flesh-and-blood descendants. To a remarkable degree he became one with them, if not actually one of them, and the photographs he took are in effect an extension of the Impressionist oeuvre. This work is another turning point for Neil Folberg: It brings us up sharp with its evocation of another time and another place, and its profound questions about originality, tradition, and the estimation of beauty.”
-William Meyers, New York Sun