Arne Svenson: “The Neighbors” at Julie Saul Gallery

After inheriting a bird-watching telephoto lens from a friend, New York-based photographer Arne Svenson embarked on an intriguing and voyeuristic project, The Neighbors, capturing little stolen moments of the residents of a glass-walled apartment building across the street from his NYC studio. The resulting images are small movements and quiet details; they are the moments when no one’s looking—until now.

In his series “The Neighbors”, Svenson has turned outward from his usual studio based practice to study the daily activities of his downtown Manhattan neighbors as seen through his windows into theirs. Svenson has always combined a highly developed aesthetic sense viewed from the perspective of social anthropology in his eclectic projects with subjects ranging from prisoners to sock monkeys. His projects are almost always instigated by an external or random experience which brings new objects or equipment into his life- in this case he inherited a bird watching telephoto lens from a friend.

The grid structure of the windows frame the quotidian activities of the neighbors, forming images which are puzzling, endearing, theatrical and often seem to mimic art history, from Delacroix to Vermeer.

Voyeuristic and investigative, The Neighbors is social documentation in a very rarified environment. The large color prints have been cropped to various orientations and sizes to condense and focus the action. In a recent review in Photograph from his LA show C. Wagley wrote, “had you not read the press release, you might think these were film stills from some slow-moving art-house picture.” Svenson has shown with the gallery since 1992 and is known for such diverse bodies of works as the aforementioned Prisoners (1997), Sock Monkeys (2003) and recent book projects Strays (2012), Chewed (2011), and Mrs. Ballard’s Parrots (2005). He recently completed the solo exhibition About Face at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

His work is in the collections of the Mutter Museum, Philadelphia, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

For more information on Svenson, visit Julie Saul‘s website:

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