Susan Kaprov

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Susan Kaprov
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New York City
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Biology
  • Art history
Alma materCity University of New York
  • Multi-disciplinary artist
  • Photographer
  • Painter
  • Graphic designer
  • Installation artist
Spouse(s)David Stoler

Susan Kaprov (born 1946, New York City) is an American multi-disciplinary artist photographer, painter, graphic designer, and installation artist.[1] She divides her time between making art off-site, in the studio and commissioned site-specific public art projects.[2]

Beginning in the 1970s and 1980’s Kaprov became widely recognized for her groundbreaking photomontages that involved the use of scanners, Haloid Xerox machines, and simple office copiers.[3] In 2019 sixteen of these experimental works were acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art.[4] Other artworks from this early phase of her career are represented in the permanent collections of major museums worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art;the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Rose Art Museum; Rowan University, the Smithsonian Institute and the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester NY.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Along with John Perrault, Susan Kaprov also worked as a nude model in the 1970s for figurative painter Sylvia Sleigh[12] and appears in paintings such as "Imperial Nude"[13], "Lilith"[14][15] "Fete Champetre"[16] and in the second panel of "Invitation to A Voyage"[17]. Sleigh's husband and renowned art historian Lawrence Alloway, described Kaprov “as a thematic and conceptual explorer who uses her studio as a “laboratory” and her work as a series of “research projects” where self-imposed ideas are explored in great depth.”[18] John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg were also long-time friends who encouraged Kaprov’s natural inclination toward experimentation and randomness.[19]

Personal life

Susan was married to the physicist David Stoler until his death in 2018.[20]


Kaprov studied biology and art history at the City University of New York (CUNY) and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1970.[21] She initially planned to become a medical illustrator attending Johns Hopkins Medical School for a year prior to deciding to pursue fine art. She later attended graduate studies in architecture, graphic design, and fine arts at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire from 1971 to 1973 followed by advanced study at New York City Technical College in 1979.[22]


In 1975 Kaprov began making experimental self-portraits and photomontages with a Xerox 6500 Color Copier.[23] Each of these images consisted of a predominantly black background that reflected the artist’s dream-like visage: closed eyes, bountiful wave-like hair, hands, and found objects. While the human body remained a source of viable subject matter, Kaprov’s cutting-edge compositions appeared both ambiguous and erotically-charged.[24]

When these self-portraits debuted to the public at The Vassar College Art Gallery in September 1976, art critic Peter Frank (art critic) identified Susan Kaprov as one of the most successful artists in the medium at that time. “The forms created by moving the photographed objects during the process, the ability of the machine to print multiple exposures, the rich range of eerie, incandescent colors,” Frank wrote, “all have provoked Kaprov to establish a technique that is part careful manipulation, and part surrender to the natural mechanical (or, if you would, unnatural) tendencies of the apparatus.”[25]

The exhibition at Vassar was soon followed by the inclusion in a group exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art titled, ‘Prints: Acquisitions 1973-1976’ that took place from November 23rd, 1976 to February 20th, 1977.[26] In 1978 Kaprov had her first solo show in New York City at the Terry Dintenfass Gallery where she presented experimental prints, paintings produced with encaustic and oil, and a new series of mixed-media drawings on black rag board entitled, ‘White Light Drawings’ which were later shown in 1978 at the Hayden Planetarium in NY.[27] The art critic Ellen Lubell commented on the cumulative characteristic of Kaprov’s art: “The subtle color she produces conveys a great spatial illusion which, combined with the black ground, creates a true source of light energy. These are colors glowing in the dark, illuminating the blackness instead of reflecting off the whiteness of general illumination.”[28]

In 1981 the Brooklyn Museum acquired ‘Twentieth Century Dilemma’[29] a two-part installation that was exhibited on the large walls of the museum’s entrance lobby.[30] Each measures 10 feet high by 14 feet wide. Viewers can observe an array of hundreds of color Xerox photomontages that contain a multitude of subjects starting with the artist’s own partly obscured face and hands, topographical and oceanographic maps, early 20th century news photos, sheet music, images of celestial phenomena, and hand-drawn linear patterns.[31] This installation was the first to reflect Kaprov’s use of a collaged grid structure on a monumental scale.

By 1989 Kaprov had produced public art installations for a number of several prominent organizations such as the Board of Education of New York City, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and NASA in Washington D.C.[32] By this time her art had already been acquired by museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY, the Museum of Modern Art NY, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.[33]

In 2004 Kaprov produced ‘Time Travelers’ for the Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden CT.[34] Measuring 110 feet wide and 15 feet high, this acrylic and enamel mural was composed of images and symbols from science and technology flowing freely within a deep, ocean-blue background that seemed to undulate along the wavy, serpentine wall specially constructed for the artwork.[35]

‘Urban Helix’ (2006) a fired enamel on glass installation was commissioned as a permanent site-responsive installation for the entrance lobby of NYU’s Polytechnic Institute at MetroTech Center in Brooklyn’s downtown business district.[36] Standing 8 feet tall and 55 feet wide, dozens of glass panels containing areas of vibrant color are merged with symbols and images from the natural world, science, and technology.[37] While ‘Time Travelers’ appears to be mostly monochromatic, ‘Urban Helix’ returns to Kaprov’s signature use of the grid.

In 2011 Kaprov was selected from a national competition to create a ten-minute single-channel animated sports video for the University of Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena.[38] Although new to this medium she accepted the challenge and produced Going the Distance which merges live-action sports team footage with original hand-drawn animation.[39] The video captures and transforms the energized motions of the Hawkeye’s skilled young athletes into a colorful visual narrative that greets all fans and visitors as they enter the arena.

In 2013 Kaprov was invited by the Museum of Modern Art in New York to conduct a participatory puzzle-making project, entitled ‘Piecing it Together’.[40] All participants received one of 48 large blank puzzle pieces and were instructed by Kaprov to paint what spontaneously came to mind when freely imagining the theme of “seeing the wind”.[41] Participants had no idea where their puzzle piece belonged in the “big picture”. A collective cheer was heard when the final puzzle was fully assembled. As Kaprov herself said, even the surprises were startling and wonderful.[42]

Two more noteworthy commissions titled ‘Under the Nighttime Sun’[43] and thirty-five original glass designs for the Sahara Express in Las Vegas, Nevada[44] were completed between 2012 and 2014 respectively.

Fellowships & Grants

1971, 1973, 1990 MacDowell Fellowship for Painting

1981 NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Painting

1984 Visual Studies Workshop Artist in Residence, Rochester NY

1985 First Prize Purchase Award, Stedman Art Gallery, Rutgers University, NJ

1989 Brandywine Printmaking Workshop Fellowship, Philadelphia PA

1989 Palenville Interarts Center Artist in Residence Palenville, NY

1990 The Banff Center, Alberta, Canada, Artist-in-Residence

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1986 New York Hall of Science

1988 Stamford Art Museum, Stamford CT

1981 The Brooklyn Museum Grand Lobby Installation: ‘20th Century Dilemma’

1975, 1978 Terry Dintenfass Gallery NY

1978 Hayden Planetarium NY, ‘White Light Drawings’, NY

1976 Vassar College Art Gallery

1979 Dance Theater Workshop NY

1978 Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta GA

1977 Franz Bader Gallery Washington DC.

Select Public Art Commissions

The City College of New York (CUNY) Science Building

Carver-Hawkeye Sports Arena, University of Iowa, Iowa City IA

Children’s Hospital of Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA

The Federal Courthouse, Jacksonville FL

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Washington DC

Polytechnic University Institute of NYU at MetroTech Center, Brooklyn NY

Port Authority of New York & New Jersey


  1. MacDowell. "Susan Kaprov"
  2. MacDowell. "Susan Kaprov"
  3. Frank, Peter. “Reviews: Susan Kaprov,” Woman Art Magazine, Fall 1976, 28.
  4. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Susan Kaprov 1946-".
  5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Strange Mirror, 1989 by Susan Kaprov," Browse the Collection.
  6. The Museum of Modern Art. "Susan Kaprov, American, born 1946" MoMA Art and Artists.
  7. The Smithsonian. "Susan Kaprov" Archives of American Art.
  8. The Brooklyn Museum. "Susan Kaprov" Brooklyn Museum Objects.
  9. The Rose Art Museum. "Photographs, Self-Portrait, Solo, Susan Kaprov."
  10. The Visual Studies Workshop. "Susan Kaprov".
  11. Rowan University. "Catalogue of the Sylvia Sleigh Collection" Rowan University Art Gallery.
  12. Trachtenberg, Nancy. "Paintings by Three American Realists: Alice Neel, Sylvia Sleigh, May Stevens" Woman Art Magazine, Fall 1976,24-25.
  13. Art of the 20th Century. "Sylvia Sleigh".
  14. Scholar Resource. "Lilith".
  15. Scholar Resource. "Study for Lilith: Susan Kaprov and Paul Rosano"
  16. Trachtenberg, Nancy. "Paintings by Three American Realists: Alice Neel, Sylvia Sleigh, May Stevens" Woman Art Magazine, Fall 1976,24-25.
  17. Moore, Sabra. "Openings: A Memoir from the Women's Art Movement, New York City 1970-1992", 2016, 409
  18. Alloway, Lawrence. Interview with the Artist. Journal of Susan Kaprov when she worked as a model for Sylvia Sleigh Alloway.
  19. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. "Guide to the Robert Rauschenberg papers, 1939-2012" Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Rauschenberg Studio.
  20. The Optical Society. "In Memoriam: David Stoler" OSA, April 25, 2018.
  21. MacDowell. "Susan Kaprov"
  22. MacDowell. "Susan Kaprov"
  23. Frank, Peter. “Reviews: Susan Kaprov,” Woman Art Magazine, Fall 1976, 28.
  24. Frank, Peter. “Reviews: Susan Kaprov,” Woman Art Magazine, Fall 1976, 28.
  25. Frank, Peter. “Reviews: Susan Kaprov,” Woman Art Magazine, Fall 1976, 28.
  26. The Museum of Modern Art. "Prints: Acquisitions 1973-1976" No. 97, For Release: November 26, 1976.
  27. The New York Times. "Arts & Leisure Guide," March 19, 1978.
  28. Lubell, Ellen. “Review: Susan Kaprov,” Arts Magazine, October 1978, 7.
  29. The Brooklyn Museum. "20th Century Dilemma" by Susan Kaprov, 1980-81.
  30. Lubell, Ellen. “Susan Kaprov at the Brooklyn Museum.” Art in America, December 1981.
  31. Butera, Virginia Fabbri. "Susan Kaprov," Arts Magazine 56 (1): 10, September 1981.
  32. “Photomontages Enliven Public Spaces,” Business to Business, June/July 1989, 42.
  33. “Photomontages Enliven Public Spaces,” Business to Business, June/July 1989, 42.
  34. Palm Desert Artist Registry. "Susan Kaprov".
  35. Conner, Jill. “Susan Kaprov,” Artists Studios, 2011.
  36. New York University. "Urban Helix by Susan Kaprov" 2014.
  37. New York University. "Urban Helix by Susan Kaprov" 2014.
  38. University of Iowa. "Susan Kaprov, Artwork by Susan Kaprov" 2011.
  39. University of Iowa Media Production. "Going the Distance by Susan Kaprov" October 3, 2011.
  40. Frisch, Cari. "Piecing It Together: A Family Artist Talk with Susan Kaprov" Inside/Out at the Museum of Modern Art, March 6, 2013.
  41. Frisch, Cari. "Piecing It Together: A Family Artist Talk with Susan Kaprov" Inside/Out at the Museum of Modern Art, March 6, 2013.
  42. Frisch, Cari. "Piecing It Together: A Family Artist Talk with Susan Kaprov" Inside/Out at the Museum of Modern Art, March 6, 2013.
  43. BRIC Artist Registry. "Susan Kaprov, Brooklyn NY".
  44. Infrastructure USA. "Las Vegas: Arts in Transit Along the Sahara Express" December 2013.

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