The astounding 700 pictures that compose this book have all been digitally altered and feature the artist at various stages of his life and in different moods, poses, and states of undress.
They range from images of a fresh-faced, innocent-looking boy to pictures of a bearded, sinister older man. Presiding over this autobiographical album— ostensibly a family album, for it begins with some photographs of Lucas Samaras’ Greek family—are thirty-four larger-scale photos of the artist as he looks today.
Samaras seems to find himself endlessly fascinating; indeed, he is as in love with his image as Narcissus was, absorbed in himself as though no one else existed. Unlike that mythological figure, Samaras hasn’t yet drowned in his image, but death haunts his consciousness. “Old age is catastrophe,” he has said. His photos are unique in the annals of self-portraiture; only Francis Bacon’s come close to them in traumatic intensity and self-distorting suffering.
Donald Kuspit is a distinguished art critic and professor. He is a contributing editor to Artforum, Sculpture, New Art Examiner, and Tema Celeste magazines, as well as editor of Art Criticism.