Richard Barnes

Born 1953
Hometown Newark, NJ
Lives and Works New York, NY
B.A. University of California, Berkeley, 1979

Richard Barnes Gallery Art

Foley Gallery, New York, NY

Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA

Hirshhorm Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.

Using architecture and the artifacts of excavation, photographer Richard Barnes considers the interaction of past cultures and the way in which they are preserved and interpreted in the present. In the 1990s he began a body of work that looks at the museum as a “container” of the celebrated and the forgotten, representative of the aspirations of the person, culture, or nation that assembled it. Carefully placed behind glass or in front of a painted scenery, draped in protective sheathing or crated, the taxidermied animals and propped skeletons convey a tension between their original wild, living context and the imitation thereof. In 2014, Barnes started a contrasting series depicting nature as it behaves on it’s own–alive and breathing. The Murmur photographs capture birds’ aerial displays, which seem to take on the form of suspended mesh sculpture that cloud the skies.

Barnes also looks at architecture as artifact and, placing it within the context of archaeology, challenges our conceptions of the way we inhabit and represent the built environment. In 1998 he was commissioned by the New York Times Magazine to photograph the cabin of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. In addition to his own incarceration, the terrorist’s rural home was also seized, as if architecture itself were to be put on trial. The cabin, representing that iconic ideal of rural self-sufficiency and simplicity was, in this case, seen as a container of evil and depravity.

Barnes’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, and the University of Michigan Art Museum. Barnes was a recipient of the Rome Prize 2005-2006 and his photographs of the cabin of Ted Kaczynski were featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and awarded the Alfred Eisenstadt Award for Photography.

Courtesy of Foley Gallery

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