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Daniel Cooney fine Art : Elizabeth Heyert : Metamorphosis


The exhibition at Daniel Cooney fine Art coincides with the publication of Elizabeth Heyert’s Metamorphosis, a monograph published by The Grenfell Press an Artist Conversation with Lesley M. M. Blume and a short story by Colm Tóibín.

Known for her groundbreaking photographs of the interior lives of others, most famously The Sleepers and her controversial series of postmortem portraits The Travelers, American fine art photographer Elizabeth Heyert delves once again into the deepest emotional landscapes of strangers in Metamorphosis, a provocative, and visionary new exhibition and book about the power of transformation.

Heyert takes the viewer on a fascinating journey into the transcendent worlds of her subjects who after being hypnotized in her studio by a trained hypnotherapist are then photographed naked, acting out childhood memories or transforming themselves emotionally into animals, birds, or other creatures unique to their subconscious fantasies.

In her conversation with journalist and historian Lesley M. M. Blume, Heyert explains why photographing her subjects without clothes was important. “I felt like it was hard enough to witness somebody in a trancelike state without getting distracted by clothing … I wanted it to be primal, and down to the bare bones. It was a lot to ask of someone, but I had a surprising number of willing subjects.” She chose to print the photos as cyanotypes, feeling that the deep rich blues would create a non-specific yet evocative environment.

Then, as a stunning and extreme counterpoint, Heyert also photographed people who attain transcendence by allowing themselves to be mummified and rendered immobile. Unlike the subjects under hypnosis, who are naked in every sense of the word, the wrapped bodies are intentionally hidden and demobilized so the person within remains a mystery, with their profound inner experiences left to the imagination of the viewer. Dramatic mural-size analog black and white photographs, rendered in the book in exquisite tritone, along with rarely seen color photogravures, invite our understanding of the humanity within the layered, sculptural beauty.

Heyert told Blume,“I found it intriguing that, once bound, people would sometimes go to a deep place within themselves, a trancelike state, called subspace, where the conscious mind relaxes, and the subconscious becomes predominant. … I imagined this approach as the yin to the yang of hypnosis, two wildly different ways to access the subconscious. I do think that’s an important thing to understand about the project. It’s not about one practice or the other, and how different they are. It’s all about transformation.”


Elizabeth Heyert is an American photographer known for experimental portrait projects. Formerly a world-renowned architectural photographer, she established her reputation in the art world with her groundbreaking series The SleepersThe TravelersThe Narcissists, and The Bound. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Artthe J. Paul Getty Museumthe San Francisco Museum of Modern Artthe Beinecke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Yale University, and numerous private collections. Her books include The Travelers, from her iconic series of post-mortem photographs, The SleepersThe NarcissistsThe OutsiderMetropolitan Places, an anthology of 20th century architecture and design, and The Glasshouse Years, a history of 19th century portrait photography.


Elizabeth Heyert : Metamorphosis
February 29th– April 20th, 2024
Daniel Cooney fine Art
508 W 26th St. Floor 9.
New York, NY 10001

Opening reception: February 29th, 6–8 pm


Elizabeth Heyert : Metamorphosis
Hardcover: 88 pages
Publisher: The Grenfell Press (November 10, 2023)
Language: English
ISBN 979-8-218-22928-3

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