Neil Folberg is widely known for his color photographs of the landscape and architecture of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Galleries have exhibited Folberg’s work worldwide; his photographs are in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bibliothèque Nationale, and the Smithsonian Institution. Born in San Francisco and raised in the Midwest, Folberg has lived in Jerusalem with his wife and three sons since 1976.
By Neil Folberg
The story of Adam and Eve powerfully retold in photographs, from an unexpected viewpoint.
With his last book, Travels with Van Gogh and the Impressionists, Neil Folberg—already well known as a photographer of landscape and architecture—took his work in a surprising, and successful, new direction, using costumed actors and carefully arranged settings to reconstruct the milieux of some of the world’s most beloved artists. Serpent’s Chronicle represents a further evolution of Folberg’s interest in staged photography: here, the images form a continuous narrative, namely, the story of Adam and Eve, as seen through the eyes of the Serpent. For this ambitious exercise in pictorial storytelling, acted by modern dancers and set in a wild Mediterranean valley, Folberg draws upon the full range of his artistic resources as a photographer in color and black and white, and of the landscape, the human figure, and even the night sky; the result, according to ARTnews, is a series of “lush depictions” that use “subtle anachronism, metaphor, and theatricality to memorable effect.”
To memorable effect and, one might add, in a spirit of serious spiritual inquiry; Folberg’s imaginative retelling of the story, based on an ancient oral tradition and accompanied by a poetic text, addresses the profound questions inherent in the biblical account. For instance, how could there be a state of paradise with only one human inhabitant? And how could conflict be avoided if there were two? Presenting Adam and Eve as Everyman and Everywoman, in a time and place at once archetypal and contemporary, Folberg shows us that the story of Eden is the true prototype of every human relationship and endeavor.
Visions of an Ancient Land
By Neil Folberg
This new collection of compelling night photography contrasts the arid landscape of Israel and the Sinai Desert against the awesome and eternal spectacle of the night sky.
In Celestial Nights, photographer Neil Folberg skillfully captures a spectacular world of nocturnal landscapes where the horizon isn’t always definitive. The earth and heavens are mingled in this collection of arresting photographs, which to Folberg represent a blurred division between present and eternity, substance and spirit, and knowledge and imagination. As Folberg writes, “No one can draw that line with precision, for we exist in all of these worlds at once.”
Celestial Nights marks Folberg's return to black-and-white photography, a technique he honed as a student and colleague of the late Ansel Adams. The volume presents a set of photographs that capture not only the skies but also their earthly foreground, creating a striking juxtaposition of the vast arid wilderness with the infinite and starry heavens. These stunning nighttime scenes feature the same historically and religiously resonant region of the Middle East that Folberg captured in daytime color in his first book, Abbeville’s In a Desert Land.
The landscapes in Celestial Nights carry an aura that is both earthly and divine. Folberg’s photographs describe places where the spiritual is at once near, imprinted in the arid landscapes, and far away, in the dark, starlit recesses of space. This extraordinary photographic collection is sure to fascinate anyone with an interest in photography, astronomy, or the Middle East.
Discovering the Connections
A captivating memoir of the author’s journey through France in search of the Impressionists and their art, interwoven with personal histories of the artists and illuminated with contemporary photographs that re-create and reimagine their work.
In 2000, deeply shaken by her husband’s recent death, author and world traveler Lin Arison took a trip through France with her granddaughter Sarah. Though Arison was in mourning, and Sarah was initially skeptical about art, the two surprised themselves by discovering renewed joy in the work of the Impressionists and the settings that inspired them.
In the years that followed, Arison’s personal odyssey became an extraordinary collaboration with photographer Neil Folberg, a collaboration culminating in Travels with Van Gogh and the Impressionists: Discovering the Connections. In one unique volume, Arison ushers readers from Auvers to Arles, Giverny to Mont Sainte- Victoire, in her quest to rediscover the lives, dwellings, and paintings of the Impressionists. En route, she debunks long-held myths about Van Gogh and Berthe Morisot, befriends twenty-first-century descendants of some of the masters, and finds inspiration in the Impressionists’ mutually supportive relationships. Gracefully blending memoir, travelogue, art history, and biography, Arison’s intimate narrative brings new insight to our understanding of these artists and their legacy.
Interspersed with Arison’s text, and with handsome reproductions of the original masterpieces, Neil Folberg’s photographs capture the central spirit of the Impressionists’ work and reapply that spirit to contemporary subjects and settings. Following an intuitive sensibility that never misses its mark, Folberg deploys each artist’s individual vision to new and striking ends, undergoing an artistic transformation of his own in the process.
Together, Arison’s words and Folberg’s images explore the enduring impact of France’s great late nineteenth-century painters, and the ways in which their revolutionary visions of their own world still impart great meaning and beauty to ours.