Face to face with Amalia Ulman and Dr. Fredric Brandt

The truth is out: international artist Amalia Ulman had plastic surgery and discussed it in the context of art and beauty with celebrity cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt.

Called the ‘King of Collagen,’ Brandt is a pioneer of a new regime of non-invasive plastic surgery described as the ‘New New Face.’ Gone are the days of the skin-tightening face lift, says Brandt: Now, patients want to walk out looking subtly refreshed and plush as a pin pillow.


Amalia Ulman, left, interviews world-renowned cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt Wednesday, June 4 at Swiss Institute of New York.

“The whole paradigm has shifted,” said Brandt, an outspoken and eerily ageless-looking character who raps and wears lace-up Givenchy sneakers. “Now, rather than reversing the aging process, people want to look constantly refreshed; they want to look better.”

Things got interesting Wednesday night at The Swiss Institute of New York, where guests gathered to hear Ulman interview Brant, a renowned surgeon and contemporary art collector.


Dr. Brandt, Ulman and Simon Castets, Swiss Institute director and show curator, in front of Ulman’s work featured in “The St. Petersburg Paradox,” a group show running through Aug. 17 at Swiss Institute.

Intended to explore the relationship between identity, consumerism and beauty—key themes relative to both Brandt and Ulman’s work—the discussion ended up being more of a lively conversation about Brandt’s personal and professional philosophies.


Dr. Brandt arrived to the talk with his publicist, close friends and clients.

Recently, Ulman underwent facial filler injections and a nonsurgical nose job in Beverly Hills, as a continuation of an ongoing research on middle brow aesthetics, elegance and discretion.

before and after

Before (left) and after (right) of Ulman’s recent nonsurgical nose job and facial filler surgery.


Swiss Institute head curator Simon Castets introduced the speakers and helped facilitate discussion.

A departure from the kitschy works of contemporary artists such as LaChapelle and Orlan, Ulman said she is more fascinated by the idea of bodies as objects and investments from a bland, cute and pretty point of view.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 2.37.15 PM

A slide from Ulman’s PowerPoint presentation.

“What if fillers and Botox are the wavy willows of plastic surgery?” she asked, alluding to her previous essay on non-charismatic, almost invisible objects. “The difference is very difficult to see, yet very obvious at the same time.”


Guests were served champagne and seated in a semi-circle formation

Ulman’s introduction marked the end of her speaking portion, as Brandt, who was eager to respond and frequently cut off Ulman’s questions mid-sentence, powered the remainder of the talk.


Brandt was eager to respond and frequently cut off Ulman’s questions mid-sentence, powering the majority of the talk.

“I had a patient come in a few months ago, and she is 50 years old,” Brandt said. “ I said, ‘don’t worry I’m going to make you look natural,’ and she goes to me, ‘honey, at 50 I don’t care about natural just make me look good!’”

There were glints of subjects that could have sparked rich topics of discussion—body anxiety, racial ‘correction’ surgery, and the electronic economy of looking good (or Photoshop)—but the conversation remained light and casual. Uncomfortable even.


Guests view video installation art by Tabor Robak, on exhibit now at The Swiss Institute through Aug. 17

In attendance with Brandt was his publicist and a small posse of Brandt’s tender-faced clients.


Asked whether he felt Ulman’s face looked good post-surgery, Brandt replied, “I think you’re a pretty woman.”

An avid collector of contemporary art, Brandt’s Midtown office, as well as his apartments in Miami and New York, are filled with artists like Richard Prince, Yayoi Kusama and Anish Kapoor.

In the question-answer portion of the talk, one person asked Brandt to cite examples of art he finds beautiful. “I like my art to make me feel good,” Brandt said. “I don’t want a piece of art to make me depressed.”


Video installation art by Tabor Robak, on exhibit now through Aug. 17 at Swiss Institute New York.


Photos by Jesse Untracht-Oakner, courtesy of Swiss Institute

Recent Posts

A Conversation about Ergonomic Futures

Lafayette Anticipation associate curator Anna Colin talks to artist Tyler Coburn about Ergonomic Futures, a speculative project engaged with art, design, science, anthropology and writing. In this interview, Coburn discusses the research, production process and network of collaborators of a multilayered project ultimately concerned with the futures of humankind. Anna Colin: When one comes across your museum seats Ergonomic Futures (2016—) in contemporary art exhibitions—and soon in natural history, fine art, and anthropology museums—they look… [read more »]

nils lange + saliva : l’eau des algues

L’Eau des Algues Two alchemists already aware of each other’s Instagrams meet for the first time in a gay sauna. They are swimming; it’s the Hood By Air afterparty in Paris. They are Lukas Hofmann and Nils Amadeus Lange. Months later, they meet again. They are on the edge of yet another steaming pool; it’s the Manifesta Biennale closing event at Cabaret Voltaire. They are performing the perfume titled “L’eau des Algues.” Head notes: Zürich… [read more »]

Toward a Low Key Voting System Where Votes Are Actually Considered | Adrian Massey

While reading A Very Short Introduction to Game Theory, I came across the following passage, “If you want people to vote, we need to move to a more decentralized system in which every vote really does count enough to outweigh the lack of enthusiasm for voting which so many people obviously feel…Simply repeating the slogan that ‘every vote counts’ isn’t ever going to work, because it isn’t true.” I was jarred. For me, anecdotally knowing… [read more »]

Tough Luck | Tyler Reinhard

When life is being super unfair, just do what we all do: suffer the consequences. I wake up and the first thing I do is check my phone. A convenient euphemism for using Facebook’s machine learning techniques to discover which 300 entries are statistically most likely to stand out from the tens of thousands of brain dumps my friends and family have produced over the last 48 hours. Impressed by what Facebook provides, I think… [read more »]

America Is Hard to See: A Guide to not being depressed about US electoral politics this November

In order to make sense of state politics in the birthplace of statistical marketing and the internet, one has to be wary of the effects of these technologies on the country’s popular media. In a time when our news and advertisements are tailored to our pre-recorded political opinions, it can be especially difficult to empathize with differing political views. Likewise, learning about the histories of state politics is not encouraged by platforms that profit from… [read more »]

On self-care and the election | Eva Saelens

We can get together and laugh about it. We can heave sighs and express disbelief, but it’s never enough. This presidential election year has lasted for years, and they sit on citizens like a slick film. We feel touched by an unshakable germ, invaded by a blood-sucker, afflicted by a social cancer, drained of the plump vitality of life and the amazing liberty of choices, and transformed into a cynical, depressed shrivel. After being touched… [read more »]

Swarovski Crystal Meth at National Sawdust

Swarovski Crystal Meth, a collaboration between Ser Serpas, Daniela Czenstochowski and Gia Garrison for the National Sawdust “Selkie Series” performances, curated by Alexandra Marzella. Music composed and produced by Daniela Czenstochowski Poem by Sera Serpas Sound Edit Mateo Majluf Vocals Sera Serpas, Gia Garrison and Daniela Czenstochowski All Images Olimpia Dior i went to the desert con mi mama outlet store shopping is fried onto mi conciensa, big bags, wins bigger losses fragmented lux economy… [read more »]

Hasbeens and Willbees Auction @ Romeo Gallery

Shop items from the most recent Hasbeens and Willbees luxury auction now! Featuring Bjarne Melgaard, Bror August, Women’s History Museum, Lou Dallas, Hermes, Gautier, and more. All photography Dillon Sachs Styling Avena Gallagher Hosted by Rome Gallery NYC


What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene | Agustina Zegers

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene is a text made up of living exercises to accompany Haraway’s theorization of the Chthulucene and her upcoming book Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Haraway posits that not only should we name the Anthropocene carefully (including the terms Capitalocene and Plantationocene within its narrative) but that we should also be using this crucial ecological timeframe to move towards a dynamically multi-species, “sym-chtonic“, sym-poietic future: the Chthulucene.… [read more »]