New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

“Players” by Tina Barney
Tina Barney
Tina Barney, “Mr. and Mrs. Leo Castelli”

Seeing “Players” should be a refreshing change for many Tina Barney fans. Instead of the large-format, intensely-detailed portraits of her rich friends or families often looking disconnected from each other in their living rooms or usual environments, Barney is here mainly focused on actors, performers and the fashion world producing photographs that look more candid and casual. Then again, these are photographs of players, performers in public and private. One of the more interesting images is the one of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Castelli in their home shot by Barney for W Magazine. We see Mrs. C standing behind her husband; her hair looks like it’s standing on end, perhaps the result of a strategically placed fan favored by fashion photographers. Frankly, being able to see some of the art in the Castelli’s home —- a painting and sculpture on a pedestal —- is almost enough justification for spending $30,000 for this 48 x 60 inch print. Some of Barney’s other images are more theatrical — there’s “Houselights, the Wooster Group”— two women hugging, one with horns sticking out of her head. “Dames at Sea” on the other hand is a straight stage portrait. My favorite is “Family Commission with Snake”. Here’s a wealthy family posing for the camera, with the bored-looking daughter holding a snake. Her brother in the background is too engrossed reading a magazine to be bothered by all this nonsense. The four family members all seem to be occupying different planes in relation to the camera. What is Barney telling us? Again, this could be one of those Barney images reminiscent of a New Yorker cartoon without the caption. Fill in the blanks.

Many of the photographs in “Players,” (which is soon to be a book) compel the viewer to pay attention to the details. So take your time and enjoy.

 by unidentified photographer.
Tina Barney, “Family Commission with Snake”

Tina Barney

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