Sharon Core: Early American

  • Hardback with jacket
    11 x 12.5 inches
    82 pages / 30 images

  • Photographs by Sharon Core
    Text by Brian Sholis

  • ISBN: 978-1-934435-46-5
  • Trade Edition: $50.00
  • Signed Edition: $55.00


In 2007, Sharon Core came across the work of the early 19th century American still life painter Raphaelle Peale. Peale’s still lifes of fruit, cakes, and vegetables are characterized by an uncanny lifelikeness, a strange animation of “natures mortes”, an American austerity, and a sense of non-identity, a giving over of a signature hand of the artist in favor of a minute replication of reality. Core began a series of photographs titled “Early American”, in part due to an affinity with Peale’s work, and also because of her interest in examining the ideas surrounding illusionism and trompe l’oeil, and their relationship with photography. Core studied Peale’s paintings intensively through reproductions and tried to replicate as best as possible the lighting, subject matter, and compositional tendencies. Core says, “I researched and collected period porcelain and glass and grew, from heirloom seeds, varieties of fruits and vegetables in existence in the early 19th century. Through these efforts I hoped to achieve a mirroring of Peale’s painstaking painting process, and the themes that lie under their surfaces.” Much of the meaning of the photographs lies in the gaps between the originals and copies. These differences in time, place, and technologies point towards themes of cultural memory, nostalgia and loss, and ask questions about our perception of the American past.


Born in New Orleans in 1965, Sharon Core received a BFA in painting from The University of Georgia in 1987 and an MFA in photography from the Yale University School of Art in 1998. After an early series “Drunk” (1998 -2000), classically photographed portraits of subjects in the advanced stages of inebriation, Core began the series “Thiebauds” (2003-2004), which attracted major critical attention. Employing her training as a painter and food-stylist, Core created photographic simulations of the California artist Wayne Thiebaud’s iconic paintings of cakes, hot dogs, and American diner fare. In her subsequent series, “Early American” (2007-2010), Core further explored the subtle visual and contextual rifts between her exquisitely wrought photographs and their reference materials—the illusionistic and uncanny still life paintings of Raphaelle Peale.

Core’s work has been exhibited widely in solo shows at White Columns, New York (2000), Bellwether Gallery, Brooklyn (2004), James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe (2009), The Hermes Foundation (2009) and the Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York (2008, 2011) and is held in numerous public collections including The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, The Guggenheim Museum, New York, Princeton University Art Museum, and the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth. The artist lives and works in Esopus, NY.


Brian Sholis is a writer, editor, and a Ph.D. candidate in the department of history at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. He is the co-editor of The Uncertain States of America Reader (Sternberg Press, 2006), an anthology of writing on recent art and politics. From 2004 to 2009 he was an editor at Artforum. He contributes regularly to that magazine, and his writing has also appeared in Aperture, Art in America, the Village Voice, Bookforum, Frieze, and other periodicals. His essays have been published in catalogues accompanying exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and other institutions.