Alex Prager was born in Los Angeles in 1979. She was raised by her grandmother in a small apartment in the suburb of Los Feliz. Her nomadic upbringing saw her splitting her time between Florida, California, and Switzerland without truly settling down long enough for a formal education. Prager’s interest in art began in her adolescence, but it was in her early twenties that she began to focus on photography after being inspired by the work of William Eggleston. In keeping with her independent spirit, she eschewed art school and began taking photographs on her own, teaching herself equipment and lighting through trial and error.
Prager takes her cues from pulp fiction, the cinematic conventions of movie directors such as Douglas Sirk and Alfred Hitchcock, and fashion photography. Resembling movie stills, her unnerving photographs—crisp, boldly colored, shot from unexpected angles, and dramatically lit—feature women disguised in wigs, dramatic makeup, and retro attire. Focusing on the actress’s face to capture one intense emotion, Prager engages in the construction of images that are intentionally loaded, reflecting her fascination with and understanding of cinematic melodrama. She depicts her subjects in the midst of an action, and her work has been described as resembling movie stills. Characterized by deeply saturated colors, heightened drama, and dark humor, Prager’s film noir inspired photographs hint at narrative subtexts while maintaining a sense of ambiguity and self-contained emotional intensity. Her featured heroines are timeless women on the verge. “The construction of the images is intentionally loaded” says MoMA curator Roxana Marcoci. “It reminds me of silent movies – there is something pregnant, about to happen, a mix of desire and angst.”Prager has also experimented with film; in 2010 she debuted her four-minute film entitled “Despair”, which starred Bryce Dallas Howard, at MoMA in the “New Photography 2010” exhibit. As Prager describes her films, they “show the before, now and after of…my images.” After the release of her first book The Book Of Disquiet (2005) Prager was given her first solo show at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, CA entitled “Polyester”. Her 2008 exhibition “The Big Valley” shown by the Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, received critical acclaim. Prager’s work has been featured in publications such as the New York Times Magazine, American Vogue, W Magazine and Art in America. Additionally, her photographs are in the permanent collection of several major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kunsthaus Zurich, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, among others. Her most recent solo show entitled “Week-end” opened in Los Angeles, New York, London and Japan in 2010.