Alex Prager

United States 1979


Alex Prager
Alex Prager
United States
December 11, 2014

Alex Prager is an American photographer and filmmaker, born on November 1, 1979. She is a self-taught photographer who staged sets and models to create “film-like” images that invite a myriad references, not only to the history of Hollywood and photography, but also the cinematic image in art contexts. The subjects of her works, exaggerated and costumed, sometimes “hyper-real” speak to the ambiguity of seduction and spectacle.

Prager began her photography practice after viewing an exhibition of William Eggleston’s at the Getty Museum in 1999-2000. As a self-taught artist, she was inspired by the way that Eggleston could “take what looked like a mundane, two-dimensional snapshot and make it feel completely alive and unique.” Her staged color photographs are often described as synthesizing the influences of Cindy Sherman, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Douglas Sirk. In 2005, Prager created a group of works, The Book of Disquiet, as an exhibition and joint publication with artist Mercedes Helnwein. She began to gain more attention with the following series Polyester in 2007, which focused more on Southern California’s cinematic background with striking, uncanny portraits of various women and girls. Her next series, titled The Big Valley, shown in 2008 at Michael Hoppen Gallery in London and in 2009 at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, expanded upon her previous images and integrated references to disparate time periods. In 2010, along with the series Week-End, Prager created her first short film, Despair which was conceived as a moving, full-sensory version of her photographic work. Set in 1960s Los Angeles, the four-minute film is inspired by the 1948 film The Red Shoes about a ballerina, played by actress Bryce Dallas Howard, whose obsession with dance conflicts with her need for love, ultimately leading to her suicide. The film was included in Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition New Photography in 2010.

In 2012, Prager diverged into creating images that deal primarily with the themes of disaster and spacial turbulence with the series Compulsion. Prager’s second short film La Petite Mort was made simultaneously and employed the narration of Gary Oldman and starring French actress Judith Godreche. Prager’s latest series, Face in the Crowd, debuted at Washington D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art. Shot on a Los Angeles soundstage in early 2013, the large-scale photographs feature dense crowds in public spaces. The series also includes a 10-minute three-channel video installation featuring Elizabeth Banks. For the shoot, Prager personally selected and dressed friends, relatives and 150 extras, and used a Hollywood sound stage to represent places where people gather: city streets, a movie theater, a beach, an airport. Described as portraying “in-between-ness, a non-space through which we are obliged to pass”, this series reflects the complicated and contradictory emotions and disconnections associated with crowds.

Alex Prager continues lives and works in Los Angeles.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014Alex PragerThe Arts Club, LondonSolo
2014Face in the CrowdM+B Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2014Face in the CrowdLehmann Maupin Gallery, New YorkSolo
2013Face in the CrowdCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DCSolo
2013Mise-en-scèneSCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GASolo
2012CompulsionFoam Museum, Amsterdam, NetherlandsSolo
2012CompulsionM+B Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2012CompulsionYancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2012CompulsionMichael Hoppen Gallery, LondonSolo
2010Week-endMichael Hoppen Gallery, LondonSolo
2010Week-endM+B Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2010DespairProject Gallery, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2010Week-endYancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2009The Big ValleyYancey Richardson Gallery, New YorkSolo
2008The Big ValleyMichael Hoppen Gallery, LondonSolo
2007PolyesterRobert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2014Reflected. Works from the Foam CollectionFoam Museum, AmsterdamGroup
2014Total Art: Contemporary VideoThe National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.Group
2013At the Window: The Photographer's ViewThe J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los AngelesGroup
2012State of the Art - New Contemporary PhotographyExhibition and book project, DüsseldorfGroup
2012Photography Portfolio IIElton John Aids Foundation, Marian Goodman Gallery, New YorkGroup
2011No Fashion, Please! - Photography Between Gender and LifestyleKunsthalle Wien, ViennaGroup
2011Embarrassment of Riches: Picturing Global Wealth, 2000-2010Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, KansasGroup
2011Intermission – Films, Videos and Photographic WorksJames Cohen Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2011Another Story: 1,000 Photographs from the Moderna Museet CollectionModerna Museet, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2010New PhotographyMoMA, New YorkGroup
2010Put Your Finger on the Button – Women PhotographersNew Image Art, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2010A Shaded View on Fashion Film FestivalCentre Pompidou, Paris, FranceGroup
2008The Good LifeYancy Richardson Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008Sugar and SpicePhotographic Center Northwest in Seattle, WAGroup
2008Young Curators, New IdeasBond Street Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2007UntitledBenjamin Fink & Alex Prager, Sara Tecchia Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2006Queen of the Night, Women under the InfluenceBerman-Turner Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2005The Book of DisquietDowntown Independent Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2004America MotelAmerica Motel, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2002Special FriendNew Image Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup