NEW YORK,  Oct. 31, 2013 – World-renowned photographer Art Wolfe has turned his artistic lens in a new direction to create The Human Canvas Project™, a dramatic new series celebrating the human form through art and photography on exhibit and available for purchase at the new Rotella Gallery™ in New York City’s SoHo, which opened in late September.  These intensely artistic works are part of an evolution of his 40-year career photographing wildlife, landscapes and native cultures throughout the world.

            Wolfe abstracts the human form through the use of lines, patterns and texture, as well as unusual angles of view.  The work draws on ancient traditions of tribal peoples who painted their faces and bodies with decorative designs. Humans – painted, clayed or abstracted – literally become the canvas for these inspired works of art.

            “I am at a loss for words in trying to describe this new direction,” Wolfe said.  “The idea has percolated for more than 20 years. I watched as herders in Ethiopia painted the faces and bodies of the men to celebrate the harvest.  I observed similar rituals taking place in remote communities around the globe.”

            Wolfe points out that he did not intend to photograph nudes as they have ever been done before.  The nudes are created with the objective toward the theatrical as opposed to the erotic.  He notes that in his travels to remote cultures throughout the world, nudity is more the norm than not.  Nevertheless, his celebration of the human form is inescapably sensual in nature. 

            “I view myself more as an artist than as a photographer in this new series,” he advised.  “Yes, I photograph, but that is the secondary part.  I see this more as pure art rather than as photography.”

            Wolfe observed the intense focus in tribal communities as bodies were adorned with traditional ornamental designs.  He also drew heavily on images he did for his book Vanishing Act, a collection showing how evolutionary traits benefit animals by disguising themselves from predators. In The Human Canvas, bodies blend with the background, becoming one in an artistic camouflage.

            Wolfe describes the laborious process he uses for creating these original pieces of art with brush, pigment or clay.  “It is a collaborative effort between models, the photographer and the assistant,” he said.  “We can work with as many as 30 models in a day.  We are constantly wrestling with the concept and, invariably, the images you didn’t plan on turn out to be the best.” 

            In his “Abstract Study” series, bodies are silhouetted against the light, forming circular patterns as the decorative designs appear to move to an ancient rhythm.  There is a dream-like quality to the work as lines and patterns undulate across the canvas in an interplay of dark and light.

            In the “Clay Study” series, Wolfe follows ancient traditions, painting a layer of wet clay on the models.  Despite the heat, models begin shivering as the cold clay dries on their bodies.  “It requires intense concentration on the part of the models,” he said.  “Even though they are shivering, they can’t fidget because of the fragility of the clay,”

            As the clay dries, cracks form on the bodies.  They emerge from a background of dried clay reminiscent of primeval man emerging from the mud. 

            In the “Pigment Study” series, Wolfe gets large rolls of photographic paper from the camera store, and then paints a backdrop on the paper.  “It can take more than four days just to paint a backdrop,” he reported.  “Then, I paint the human figure against the backdrop.”  The backdrop and the human figures become one in an artistic camouflage with nature.  Photographed from unusual angles, a pattern of lines, dots and designs blend on the human canvas.

            Printed on fine art papers with archival inks, the works in The Human Canvas have a truly magical quality.  A marriage of ancient traditions and contemporary art, The Human Canvas celebrates the beauty of the human form and the environment in which we live. 


             Rotella Gallery: A Fine Art Photography Gallery offers collectors Artists Proofs of five, Exclusive Editions in a series of 12, Limited Editions of 100 and Open Editions.  All images from the Gallery come with a hand-signed Certificate of Authenticity.  All editions are hand-signed by the artist to confirm their authenticity as an original.  Images are traditional darkroom enlargements and cold-pressed between UV-protected and scratch-resistant acrylic for a luminous and archival presentation without the weight and fragility of glass.  They are mounted in a frame of the customer’s choice and available in several different sizes and custom oversize enlargements.

            Rotella Gallery has two locations:  New York and Las Vegas.   The New York Gallery is located at 468 West  Broadway, New York, NY 10012; 212-260-1140, fax: 212-260-1125; toll-free: 1-855-360-1140.  Hours: Mon- Sat 10:00 am to 7:00 pm ET; Sun: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm ET.  Visit Email: 

                The Las Vegas gallery is located at 3327 Las Vegas Blvd, Suite 2750, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (at 2nd Level inside The Palazzo®); 702-431-6030, fax: 702-431-6031; toll-free: 1-866-814-8822.  Hours: Sun-Thu: 10:00 am to 11 pm PT; Fri & Sat: 10 am to 12 am PT.  Visit Email:  


Sarah Fletcher/Gina McNamee