Matthew Albanese’s work centers around the construction of meticulously detailed miniatures made from found objects and simple household materials, including spice and food. Albanese often spends weeks searching for materials for his dioramas, including elements that aren’t intended to be permanent but, rather, deteriorate over time. While some portions of his created environments are recycled in later compositions, many others are destroyed during the photographic process.
Albanese was born in northern New Jersey in 1983 and spent a peripatetic childhood moving between New Jersey and upstate New York. He received his BFA in Photography from the SUNY Purchase School of Art and Design in 2005, after which he worked as a fashion product photographer specializing in bags, shoes, and accessories. In 2008, a spilled canister of paprika reminded him of the surface of the planet Mars, which inspired him to create his first miniature landscape. By manipulating the scale, lighting, depth of field, and color balance in each image, Albanese, as the New York Times wrote in 2011, has become “adept at coaxing humble materials into looking like something else.”
Albanese experiments with texture, color, and pattern, but most importantly with the way his materials react to light. While most aspects of these emotive landscapes are painstakingly preplanned, Albanese’s process always also includes a period of trial and error, during which he makes the small but crucial discoveries that transform his stage sets into trompe l’oeil landscapes that possess an uncanny vividity. Albanese’s beautiful, often haunting images have been exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design of New York, as well as the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the Winkleman Gallery, MUba (Musée des Beaux Arts) in Tourcoing, France, and the Galeria Civica Cavour in Padova, Italy.