© Gail Skoff

Gail Skoff is a native Californian who has been photographing since her teens. Her early work included images from Bali, the American Southwest and Hawaii. These were black and white photographs which were hand-colored with oil paints. This mix of photography and painting was a technique she used for almost 30 years.

In 1981 she began to travel extensively through the French wine country with her husband, the wine importer Kermit Lynch. Her unique access into the wine culture allowed Skoff to document the winemakers lives and the traditional way wine was produced with an intimate viewpoint.

When she turned to vegetables for subject matter she stopped hand coloring. The close-up, sensual portraits of earthy, organic forms were stronger in black and white.

Her interest in close-up photography was next inspired by Pompeii and other ancient ruins, as well as by the mosaic floors of Rome and Venice. She created large scale abstract compositions of architectural details, which appear simultaneously ancient and modern. She continued her investigation of Italian architecture, photographing on the island of Burano near Venice. These formal images of brightly colored chimneys appear as minimalist sculptural forms.

Next, she did a series entitled Vital Signs, based on some hospital experiences in France using vegetables, especially tomatoes, as their skin is as fragile and delicate as humans.

The current project is Scenes from Provence, which reflects her life and experiences from living in the South of France. These photographs use Santons, terra cotta figurines who represent métiers of the 18th Century, but also seem contemporary as people now have similar jobs and roles in society. They are photographed in front of backdrops created for each figure, so they are historical and fantastical at the same time.

She has created several handmade artists books in small editions, and has collaborated on wine and cookbooks with well-known food writers such as Alice Waters, Paul Bertolli and Richard Olney.

Gail Skoff received an MFA from The San Francisco Art Institute in 1979 and was the recipient of an NEA grant in 1976. Her work is included in many collections both nationally and internationally, including The Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute.

She continues to teach and splits her time between homes in Berkeley, California and Le Beausset in Provence, France.