At Paul Kasmin, Tina Barney Shows Us Our American Oligarchs

THE DAILY PIC: Photos that used to feel neutral now point an accusing finger.


THE DAILY PIC (#1313): This is Beverly, Jill and Polly, shot in 1982 by Tina Barney and now in her first solo show with Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York. I’ve been following Barney’s photos for years, and have always been struck by the wonderful anthropologist’s eye she’s used to document America’s aristocracy. With the Kasmin show, however, and the nation’s current inequality, I’m finding her work closer to Lewis Hine’s revelations of economic injustice than to August Sander’s neutral photos of a social cross-section.

We should no longer be intrigued by the world Barney depicts; we should be disgusted and enraged by it, as we contemplate the harm that it’s doing to us all. We also need to recognize that the sale of such an artwork, in a marketplace that caters to the same oligarchs Barney shows, is a rather complicated thing. (©Tina Barney, Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery)

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