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About the Photographer
"The issues in my work are often of a similar nature with an abstract edge. Though I build on past experience, I attempt to eradicate previous habits of seeing and thinking. I keep searching for what is visually new to me while always hoping that a fusion of form and content will take place."
— Barbara Crane, Artist Statement, 2002
For over 60 years, Barbara Crane worked as a photographer, creating highly formal, often abstracted images of people and the urban and natural landscape. For her "Human Forms" series, Crane paid her children thirty-five cents an hour to pose for her, on their condition that their faces were not recognizable. Because of the limitations this condition placed on her photographs, Crane began to abstract the images of their bodies, playing with line, shadow, and light, to create the series' elegant forms. Taking this approach a steph further, in "Pigeons, Whole Roll" Crane explores the patterns that emerge from the seemingly innocuous events of life, taking chance occurrences and molding them into a complex study of the subject matter. To photograph this series, she lay on her back in Chicago's Grant Park as her assistant poured pigeon feed all around her, waited for the pigeons to land, and then ran back to scatter them. Crane then cut out the individual negatives, arranged them without looking at them, and contact-printed them. She continued to play with chance and repitition in her series "People of the North Portal" (1970-71), for which she photographed people exiting Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, recording a wide variety of expressions and reactions. Some full-body shots, others focusing simply on the faces of her subjects, the photographs beautifully depict a large spectrum of human experience.
Barbara Crane studied at Mills College in California, completed her BA in art history at New York University, and later received her MS from the Institute of Design (at the Illinois Institute of Technology). She taught for 28 years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Photography grant, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award in Photography, Crane participated in 170 group exhibitions and mounted 75 solo exhibitions. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY and the Art Institute of Chicago; among others.