Nostalgic Surroundings

Nostalgic Surroundings

Part of a generation racked by hyperactivity, Tina Barney (b.1945) captures the details of north eastern, suburban America, a subject which boasts a balance between the lucid, mundane acts of the everyday, and the sublime, wider physical spaces in which they take place. Landscapes is the artist’s first solo show in three years, yet her second at Paul Kasmin gallery, New York, following a string of displays across the globe. Best known for a fascination with the social elite of America, this new, unprecedented collection of images marks a shift in focus for Barney, one which was staggered over a period of 30 years.

The 1980s saw the photographer’s view widening, indicating both a thematic and formulaic change. Moving into the realm of coloured, 8 x 10 inches, large format images, Barney drew upon up-and-coming stylistic trends, following in the footsteps of her counterparts, notably Stephen Shore. The assortment of subjects continued to build, exposing rocky beaches, isolated outbuildings, and busied walkways. Further works were taken between the origins of the project and the resulting exhibitions, only halting last summer. This show not only looks at the definition and appearance of landscapes amongst a highly saturated world, but also considers the perhaps contrasting temporality and durability of the medium.

By exploring humanities impact on environments, Barney shows how the population works to become a compositional element. Bike Parade (2017) displays crowds of people and their activities amongst nature. A scattering of large, white-washed houses paired with perfectly trimmed drives and impeccably placed family cars are seen nestled within controlled crops of trimmed bushes and flowers. A bustle of bike-riding, balloon-holding children passes through on the lower, bordering street, somewhat emphasised by the photographer as a highpoint of the social calendar, and something which would otherwise go undocumented without her presence. The increased importance placed on this event through its emphasis within the scene seemingly comments on the historic power of man. Unconsciously dominating nature, humans have ultimately changed its form, transforming it into a staging for their social events.

At Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, until 3 March. Find out more:

1. Tina Barney, Bay Street, 1988. © Tina Barney. Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery