Fine art photographer Hugh Foster finds the balance between grace and strength at two iconic Orange County works of art

For Hugh Foster, architecture is more than mere backdrop. It is an essential part of the artistic conversation between subject and setting.

The sinewy structure of a body’s musculature is juxtaposed against mineralized stone, veins visible against alabaster/bronzed bone. A dancer’s pose is fleeting against the granite structure’s permanence. But here, in Foster’s lens, they’re equally eternal. It’s part of the subject itself. In another photographer’s hands, buildings become backdrops reduced to mere scenery.

Beyond the sheer beauty and musculature of the human form, Foster’s photography captures the balance between grace and strength, tenderness and brawn. Bodies in motion are an enduring subject of fascination. Foster’s work, though, celebrates more than physique. It studies the conversation between architecture that is constructed and physical forms that are conceived. 

“Everything we choose in life for its lightness soon reveals its unbearable weight,” says American artist Richard Serra. No surprise that Hugh Foster chose Connector–Serra’s 2006 sculpture commissioned by Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom–as a setting. Long considered symbols of strength and durability, both granite and steel provide perfect counterpoints to Foster’s dancers and yoga masters.

Foster acknowledges an element of risk in his photo shoots. For photographers shooting at Isamu Noguchi’s California Scenario sculpture garden, it is better to ask forgiveness than permission, he advises. It’s that very element of risk that seeps into his work. A ballerina precariously posed on the edge of a work of art. A man’s life in balance, straddling the abyss, staring into its open maw. They aren’t simply beautiful bodies, but bodies in a cultural conversation with both their surroundings and their audience. 

Lamonte Goode inside Connector, 2006, the sculpture by Richard Serra at Segerstrom Center for the Arts | Photographed by Hugh Foster

Risk isn’t simply an obstacle Foster navigates around. It’s part of his point. What do dancers and yogis risk when pushing their bodies seemingly beyond their limits? What do architects risk in audacious designs? What about artists like Richard Serra with his 360-ton steel sculptures? What is the point of life–Foster’s photos seem to ask–without risk?
Marrie Stone

Models/Dancer/Yogi: Sadie Black @sadie_black 

Lamonte Goode @cyberyoga

AJ Abrams @iamajabrams

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