The Master, 2001
Tina Barney Biography
Tina Barney is an American photographer born in New York city in 1945 and is a member of the Lehman family. She is widely acclaimed for her large-scale portraits of her upper-middle-class family and friends. Today, Barney lives and works in both Westerly, Rhode Island and New York.
Barney began her artistic formation as a student at the Sun Valley Center for Arts and Humanities located in Ketchum, Idaho, where she studied between 1976 and 1979. During this time, Barney began experimenting with color and large-format photography. After returning to New York, Barney set her attention on a new subject – her own family and friends, marking the start of her turn to portraiture.
Barney's photographs portray intimate moments of family life and consistently display a fine ability to illuminate the innermost lives of her subjects. Her images depict intergenerational relationships, rituals, and traditions, taking simple moments of everyday domesticity and juxtaposes them with vibrant colors and large formats to create striking portraits of family dynamics alive and in motion.
During the 80s and 90s, Barney worked on a wide repertoire of images which would later be published in photographic monographs such as Theater of Manners (1997). In these images, Barney employs her characteristic style, formed of scenes that are both spontaneously and carefully orchestrated – a move that purposefully reflects the artist's heritage in which an “inability to show physical affection” was the norm. The resulting images display subtleties of emotion and gesture that are both complex and psychologically insightful, embellished by beautifully ornate settings depicting luscious fabrics and interiors.
Today Tina Barney's photographs are displayed in collections across the United States and abroad, including collections at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Barney has also enjoyed displays at the Nicola Erni Collection in Zug Switzerland, the Barbican Art Gallery in London, and the Kunsthalle Wien in Austria, amongst others. In 2017, Barney’s monograph was published by Rizzoli USA, marking the culmination of the artists’ four-decade career.