Barbara Karant

(American; resides in Chicago, IL)

Primarily a commercial photographer, Barbara Karant has been photographing architecture for over 25 years. Her 820 Ebony/Jet series documents the historic building that once housed the landmark African-American owned Johnson Publishing Company. Slated to undergo reconstruction, the former JPC building at 820 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago has been emptied of its contents. Karant’s photographs capture the remaining textures, colors, and residual structures and remnants of the workspace in operation there for 40 years, from the architectural design of John Moutoussamy to Arthur Elrod’s bold interiors. The absence of personal artifacts does not hinder the unique expression of the space, reflective of the vital occupancy of a company and culture that shaped it over the decades. Karant’s documentary photographs comprise a narrative of that history.

Barbara Karant’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts; the Art Institute of Chicago; St. Louis Art Museum; Stanford University Art Museum; Chrysler Museum; the Polaroid Collection; and the Avon Collection, among others. She has exhibited her work at numerous museums and galleries, including the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University; Los Angeles Center for Contemporary Photography; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Art Institute of Boston; and the International Center of Photography, New York. Her commercial work has been featured widely in such publications as Architecture, Interior Design, Metropolis, Architectural Digest, Chicago Magazine, Esquire, Interiors, and the New York Times.