Some of the world’s greatest artists photographed in lockdown by Maryam Eisler

LUX Contributing Editor and artist Maryam Eisler has been photographing some of the world’s greatest artists over FaceTime and WhatsApp for LUX. As the project evolves, our online exhibition Confined Artists – Free Spirits: photographs from lockdown by Maryam Eisler will grow, accompanied by musings from the likes of Marina Abramovic, Larry Bell, George Condo, Eric Fischl, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Marilyn Minter, Shirin Neshat and Laurie Simmons. Below, LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai introduces Maryam’s brilliant and original oeuvre, and Maryam herself muses on her inspiration, after which we present her works in all their raw and un-retouched digital glory.

The lockdown around the world is having an unprecedented effect on every aspect of human life. Many people have lost their jobs or have seen their businesses imperilled. Others feel helpless as they see the suffering and sacrifices around them.


In such times, the raison d’etre of creativity and artistry comes under scrutiny: who can have time for anything unrelated to the clear and present danger caused to humankind by these strands of self-replicating RNA?


But creativity is part of what it is to be human. Somewhere in our DNA (itself a complex remake of the same nucleic acid that is coronavirus) is a program for the unique human desire and ability to create art, and appreciate aesthetic, for its own sake. Some of the greatest artistic creations in our history, from the temples of the Nile to Picasso’s Guernica, have emerged from horror and hardship. Artists cannot stop creating, even if the art world, that very contemporary construct, has temporarily stopped working.


When Maryam Eisler, one of our contributing editors, called me with an idea, a couple of weeks into lockdown, I knew it would be worth listening to. An artist and author, Maryam is the archetypal peripatetic global art world citizen: born in Iran, educated in France and the States, resident in London.

Maryam said she had started a project photographing her favourite artists as screenshots on FaceTime and WhatsApp. I said it would be an honour to run her project as an online exhibition, and also in the pages of our summer 2020 print edition. The project gained momentum, to what you see here today: some of the most celebrated artists in the world, captured in a casual moment, on a phone, and unedited. A true sign of our times. Over to you, Maryam.


Darius Sanai, Editor-in-Chief, LUX magazine

June 21, 2020
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