Matthew Swarts is an American artist known for his innovative digital manipulation of photographic information. His work explores themes of intimacy, distance, and the fragmentation of personal connections in the digital age.[1] [2][3][4][5][6] Swarts attended Princeton University, where he studied Ethics and the Philosophy of Value, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where he graduated with an MFA in Photography and Digital Media. His early work focused on traditional portraiture, documenting intimate moments with his partner. In Children with Cancer Swarts made portraits of over forty young people who were living in the Boston area during his graduate education. The Museum of Fine Arts first collected Swarts’ work in 1997, purchasing several prints from his graduate thesis show.[7] Several other noteworthy museums and collections soon followed. Swarts’ artistic breakthrough came when he began reworking his personal photographs after a long-term relationship ended. He developed a unique process of layering and distorting the original portraits with scanned patterns, strange graphics, optical illusions, visual excerpts from mathematics and physics, and digital abstractions, creating a sense of visual cacophony and perceptual confusion. This technique is exemplified in his series Beth and The Alternatives, where the once-familiar figures of his partners become obscured and fragmented beneath layers optical information.[9] The resulting images are both enticing and disorienting, inviting the viewer to engage in an active process of perception and interpretation. Swarts’ process involves compositing portraits with various digital tools, surfaces, and forms, often repeating patterns, sharpening, bending, and virtually destroying the source images.[10] Swarts’ solo exhibitions venues include Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles[13],the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Harvard University’s Carpenter Center, Hampshire College, and others. His work has also been shown in group exhibitions internationally, including at MIAMI PROJECT and PULSE ART FAIR at Art Basel Miami Beach, in China, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and France, and nationally at several venues of significance: AIPAD in New York City, The George Eastman Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Princeton University, the Seattle Art Fair, Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon, and others. Swarts’ work has been collected by The Library of Congress[8] and featured in galleries and museums, including the permanent collections of the George Eastman Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Princeton University, Transformer Station, Light Work, The Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, and others. He has received accolades such as the J. William Fulbright Scholar Grant and the Ruttenberg Arts Foundation Award for the best new work in photographic portraiture nationally.[11] His work has been published in various publications, including The New York Times Magazine, DEAR DAVE, Doubletake Magazine[12], Contact Sheet, Afterimage, Fotophile, and In the Loupe.  Swarts has also taught photography at several institutions, including Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Ramapo College of New Jersey, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, The University of Connecticut, and The Community College of Rhode Island. He lives and works in Somervile, Massachusetts.

  1.  Hostetler, Lisa (2016). A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age. George Eastman Museum. pp. 160–163. ISBN 9780935398182.
  2.  Salas, Alexis (2005). “”Fiction as a Higher Truth: The Photography of MATTHEW SWARTS””. CONTACT SHEET. 132 (The Light Work Annual).
  3.  October Matthews, Katherine (2015). “Alternatives: An Interview with MATTHEW SWARTS”. GUP Magazine (45).
  4.  Saint Louis, Catherine (September 10, 2000). “WHAT THEY WERE THINKING: Karen Edna Wallstein, Campbell Village, USA., Copake, NY”. The New York Times Magazine.
  5.  Schiller, Jakob (January 28, 2015). “An Artist Copes With a Breakup by Erasing His Ex in Photoshop”. WIRED Magazine.
  6.  Frailey, Stephen (2022). “MATTHEW SWARTS”. DEAR DAVE, (28): Cover, interior feature.
  7.  Swarts, Matthew. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 
  8.  Swarts, Matthew. “Children with Cancer”. The Library of Congress.
  9.  Rosenberg, David. “This Photographer’s Creative Way of Processing a Relationship”SLATE.com. SLATE.
  10.  Feinstein, Jon. “MATTHEW SWARTS Transforms Intimate Portraits into Psychoactive Masterpieces”. Humble Arts Foundation. Humble Arts Foundation.
  11.  Fulbright Scholar List Archive. Fulbright Scholar Program. 
  12.  Coles, Robert (1998). “A Witness to Courage”. DOUBLETAKE (Spring 1998).
  13.  Kopeikin, Paul. “MATTHEW SWARTS Beth and the Alternatives”.