Yearly Archives: 2011

My Medici

I’ve always referred to the camera as my  ” My Medici.”

With a camera around my neck I have done things and met people that I would never have met in a lifetime without it. To top it off, it was always fun and it also allowed me to learn to be a sculptor on my own time and at my own pace without having to be concerned with the demands of the art market. In that regard, I consider myself fortunate.

I refer to the Medici’s of Florence with a little bit of awe. Consider what they made possible by their support of the arts during the Italian renaissance. There aren’t many “Medicis” around these days but Leica, Hasselblad and Deardorf  came to support me in the same way as I developed my art and a second career.

Thinking of the renaissance kicked off a side thought,

If you have ever been to Florence and visited the Academy I’m sure you walked by the row of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculpture on the way to the end of the hall to look at his David. Did you know that on the back of one of the slaves my old friend Mike carved a small self portrait. When I found that I figured this great artist also had a down to earth sense of humor. Had the pope ever allowed him to complete these pieces the sketch would have been removed as he approached the finished skin of the figure… but it’s there and always will be .


The Day I Discovered Sculpture

I remember this like it was yesterday. 1958. I was in my photography studio in New York City and had just opened the new issue of Life magazine. In those days life was THE magazine. This issue was on the resurgence of wood sculpture as carved by a new group of mostly men who were working in exotic hardwoods. Photo after photo of some of the juiciest work I had ever seen. After looking at the work several times I remember saying out loud,” I can do that.”

Sam Flax, which was one of the largest art supply stores in New York, was just down the block from my studio. I walked over to buy a hunk of mahogany, some carving tools and a book on how to do wood sculpture. My first real lesson was to keep both hands behind the chisel. It only took one slip and one stitch on the index finger of my right hand to prove the point. I still have that first piece and the scar to prove it. Needless to say the sculpture wasn’t very good but I loved the physical part of it and the fact that I could actually walk around something I was working on instead of just laying a print on the table. I was hooked. Prior to that I was painting at night to relieve the pressure of being on camera all day.  Once I started sculpting however I didn’t paint seriously again for almost 30 years.

Boy on a Bike

Going through some old files I came across this photo. It is the shot that changed my life.

This assignment when i was a shooter in NYC was for Arnold Bread. The agency had sent me to Vermont for a week to do sunrise and sunset shots for a new bread. I had never been there before and I never stopped going back. Several years later I had built a house and moved there. In the process my career morphed from a photographer to a sculptor.



I want to thank my son Marc for putting this new site together.
Distance didn’t make any difference in the process. He’s in New York and I’m in Virginia but he logged into my computer and we were able to make conceptual and detailed modifications in real time with a click of a button. I’m amazed at the technology.

He’s available to you as well at marcjaffe.com

End of commercial. 🙂

As I learn how to add and subtract items and comments on the site I will try to keep you up to date with work, data and opinions. I’d be interested in your comments or questions along the way so we can get a dialogue going. Otherwise this would be like creating art without a collector and I’d have an incomplete circle.

Before all of this started. On location for Smith and Wesson

Before all of this started. On location for Smith and Wesson



Catch Up

For those of you who are new to this site and my work there are 3 of my interviews available here. They should give you all of the history that you need.

Big changes have taken place in the past few years. The main one is the fact that I had to stop carving marble. Using power tools for over 30 years brought on a vascular problem in my hands that hurt enough to make me stop. What’s left in inventory is probably the last of it. If I miss anything in my life it’s the noise, dust and physical joy of cutting stone but … I’m on to other things and the creative juices are still flowing.

I’ve been painting on a regular basis and in those paintings I’m constantly looking for ways to get more texture and a three dimensional quality on a two dimensional plane. In the last several months the work has taken a major jump conceptually and I am now creating three dimensional wall sculpture and then using that as a base for a painting. Complicated, challenging and something that i think is very new. It takes about a month to do each piece so I’m not ready for a show yet. Stay tuned.