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Tina Barney: The Beginning

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Long-lost images of family and friends from the late 1970s by the acclaimed portraitist and chronicler of domesticity

Over the course of her 40-year career, acclaimed American photographer Tina Barney has illuminated the inner lives of her subjects, observing the generational repetition of familial traditions and rituals as played out in domestic settings. In the summer of 2020, at the height of Covid and quarantine restrictions, Barney began to sort through her archive, which contained thousands of 35mm negatives taken between 1976 and 1980. Finding these long-forgotten images engendered a rediscovery of some of her most intimate memories as a young artist: “the photographs in this book seem like X-rays of my mind and thoughts through the summers I spent with family and friends on the East Coast and in Sun Valley, Idaho.”

Revisiting her work from decades prior, Barney found herself meditating on who and where she was at the time, as well as why and how she approached specific subjects. What was the impetus to capture these moments? The Beginning encompasses Barney’s nostalgic exploration of her earliest work in the medium, and further reflects a self-examination of this formative period through a critical lens.

The photographs of Tina Barney (born 1945) are in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Nicola Erni Collection, Zug, Switzerland. Barney's work has been the subject of major recent exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art; Frist Center, Nashville; and the Barbican, London.