Tina Barney

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Tina Barney (born October 27, 1945 , New York City ) is an American photographer . She is best known for her large-format portraits of the well-off populations of New York and New England .


Barney comes from a wealthy Jewish family and grew up on the American east coast. In the 1960s she studied art history, volunteered in the photography department of the Museum of Modern Art , traveled to Italy for a year to study and began to build up her own art collection, which also included photographs. In the early 1970s, Barney moved with her husband and two sons from New York to Sun Valley , Idaho . Being homesick, she took photography courses at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities , and applied what she learned there during her family's summer vacations on the east coast of New England , particularly on Rhode Island . There she used 35mm photography to document the people and situations that she had been familiar with since childhood. In particular, she explored the rituals of family life in depth in her work.

In 1981 she switched to large-format photography, the size of which was 120 × 150 centimeters, on which she mounted the photos. The elaborate equipment resulted in a new approach, people increasingly reproduced their own behavior in the pictures, posing as themselves. For over twenty years Barney accompanied her friends and family members photographically. In 1983 she not only exhibited one of these pictures for the first time in the Museum of Modern Art , the museum also bought her picture. Immediately afterwards, their marriage broke up and her husband divorced her.

In 1988 and again in 1994 she directed films about the photographers Horst P. Horst and Jan Groover . In 1996 she finished her long-term family and friends photography project , which she brought to a close in the photography book Photographs: Theater of Manners . She then went to Europe, where from 1996 to 2004 she carried out a project in which she portrayed a friend and a “friend”, and published the results in the volume The Europeans . During this time she was accompanied by a film team who created a documentation of her work, which was published in 2005 under the title Tina Barney: Social Studies . During this era she also began doing commissioned work for fashion magazines and designers, and took portraits, and in 2010 she published work from them in The Players .


Barney's work is characterized by her close connection with her subjects, demonstratively she appears in some of the pictures themselves, “I want to show that these pictures and these people are part of my life. I belong to them. ”The staging for the large format also creates a balancing distance that allows the viewer a glimpse into the fractures and abysses of those portrayed. She had great success in 2005 with the photo series The Europeans . Barney thus documents the desire for representation and the lavish self-presentation of the European upper class, which is expressed in magnificent interiors and an almost baroque physical posture. The portrayed are rich heirs, the US photographer's gaze precisely works out the narrow lines of tradition.

Barney is part of the white upper class and belongs to an exclusive class. The participation in it, combined with the long-term nature of her projects, enables her to do real social studies in a milieu that otherwise remains inaccessible to external viewers. She has therefore also been compared to an anthropologist . Thomas Machoczek sees them as the opposite of Nan Goldin and her portraits of the lower class. She herself cites paintings of intimism by Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard as influences .

Barney's works can be found in renowned collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography , Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art , New York, the George Eastman House , Rochester , the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Museum Folkwang in Essen. It was represented for a long time by Janet Borden, now by Gallery 339. Barney has received the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award and the Lucie Award .


  • Friends and Relations: Photographers at Work , 1991
  • Swimming , 1995
  • Photographs. Theater of Manners , 1997
  • Family Portraits , 2002
    • German: Photographs of family, custom and norm , Scala, Zurich / Berlin / Milan 1997, ISBN 3-931141-68-3 . German and English
  • The Europeans , 2005
  • Players . Steidl, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-86521-995-4 . English


  • Horst , 1988
  • Jan Groover: Tilting at Space , 1994, together with Mark Trottenberg


  • 2012: "Small Towns," Janet Borden, Inc. NYC
  • 2012: "The Europeans", Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI
  • 2010: "Players", Janet Borden, Inc. NYC
  • 2006: “click doubleclick the documentary moment”, Haus der Kunst , Munich
  • 2005: "The Europeans", Barbican Art Gallery , London
  • 2003: "Les Européens", Les Rencontres d'Arles, France.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Thomas Machoczek: The Essen Museum Folkwang shows pictures of the upper class from New England. In: Der Tagesspiegel , August 30, 1999, accessed December 19, 2014.
  2. a b c Tina Barney. In: lucies.org , accessed December 19, 2014.
  3. a b c d e f Boris Friedewald : Masters of Light - Great Women Photographers from Two Centuries. , 2014, ISBN 978-3-7913-4673-1 , pp. 28-33
  4. Tina Barney on Sundance. In: The New York Times , February 29, 2008 (video).
  5. ^ Adk exhibition: The photographer's contract
  6. ^ Tina Barney - biography and offers - buy and sell. Retrieved December 8, 2019 .
  7. Biography and exhibition list ( Memento of the original dated September 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / janetbordeninc.com
  8. click doubleclick - the documentary moment - Haus der Kunst, Munich (8.2.-23.4.06). In: art-in.de. Retrieved March 30, 2018 .
  9. Click Doubleclick - The documentary moment. Retrieved March 30, 2018 .