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Frank Ockenfels 3


A black-and-white close-up photograph of a face with one hand pulling the skin away from the mouth and another hand resting on the forehead.

Frank Ockenfels often seeks out that which deviates from the norm, from the expected or the obvious. He approaches his subjects with playfulness and spontaneity and uses what is available in the moment. It might be a ray of light, a movement, or playful use of the flash. By applying several different techniques – such as photography, painting, and collage – and experimenting with light, optics, and different kinds of cameras, Ockenfels is always trying to stretch the limits of what a photograph or artwork can be.

Collage of portraits of George Clooney at different focal points
© Frank Ockenfels 3, GEORGE CLOONEY 2005, Courtesy Fahey/Klein Gallery
Collage artwork of a woman's face on various blue and pink backgrounds
© Frank Ockenfels 3, FREEZE...2020, Courtesy Fahey/Klein Gallery


Introspection surveys the artist’s career across different sections, each one tied to the next through displays of Ockenfels’s Journals, which he made to document his various projects. What initially began as quickly scribbled notes on a polaroid picture to remember lighting set-ups and plans for the next day grew into a way to record his conversations with his subjects and a way of developing ideas, working through influences, and charting his progress.

In this exhibition, new photographic works are combined with unique, original pieces, some where photography is not at the center. Instead, we see skateboards, newspapers, and scrap-metal as the canvas for Ockenfels’ paintbrush, pen and paint. His sometimes rough treatment of his photographs transforms them from portraits of individual people into a reflection of himself and his inner worlds.


Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1960, Frank Ockenfels 3 has been widely applauded throughout his career for his playful style and experimental technique. He is best known for his psychologically revealing portraits of famed figures such as George Clooney, Nirvana, and David Bowie; his campaigns for brands including Converse, and Nike; and his work as a director of music videos and commercials.

After studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York in the early 1980s, he rose to prominence doing cover shoots for magazines including Rolling Stone and Spin and overseeing photo shoots for artists including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jay Z and Alicia Keys. In the 1990s, he began directing music videos and later transitioned to orchestrating promotional campaigns for shows and films like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Bear, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Throughout, he’s also kept up a separate but related studio practice, producing works in a variety of media and presenting exhibitions at venues including Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles.

His art often has a dreamlike quality, with a sometimes dark, suggestive undertone that nevertheless carries a certain elegance. After more than 30 years, Ockenfels is still on a journey of constant experimentation.

Frank Ockenfels 3 on "Introspection"

Shop the Collection

Explore items inspired by the Frank Ockenfels 3 exhibition at Fotografiska New York.