Barbara Crane: The Polaroid Years

Friday, Mar 2 – Apr 28, 2018 5 – 7 pm

1637 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

In celebration of Barbara Crane’s 90th birthday, we are thrilled to present The Polaroid Years, a solo exhibition featuring some of her best known Polaroid pieces from the late 1970s/80s including recent work from 2012. The show is being held in collaboration with Stephen Daiter Gallery, who will also feature the artist in a one-person exhibition. 

Barbara Crane is recognized as one of the leading conceptual artists to have emerged from The Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. With more than ninety solo exhibitions to date, including seven retrospectives, Crane has solidified her place as one of the most important experimental photographers today. For twenty-eight years she taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago becoming one of the most renowned educators worldwide, while consistently working on her own photography. She retired from teaching in 1995, and is currently working on several book projects.

Many of us have had a love affair with the Polaroid camera. It was the first time we instantly saw what we had photographed. The sound of the film emerging from the camera, the long wait for the image to fully appear… it seemed like magic. Barbara Crane was one of a handful of photographers who was given unlimited access to Polaroid film, allowing her to experiment and push the boundaries of the material. Several of these pieces will be on view, including some of her seminal SX-70 grids that examined repetition and its power to elevate simple patterns into majestic effects. In Polka Dots I, 1980, a grid of red dots play against a yellow backdrop, begging the viewer to see the difference between each frame. In Tucson, 1979, Crane manipulates Polaroid packfilm with a scribe, moving around the emulsion to create an outline of the subjects. And in Private Views, 1981, Crane spent time photographing at Chicago beaches and summer festivals, focusing on the people that make the city so culturally diverse. The Polaroid Years marks the return of Barbara Crane’s work to CEG, where it was first exhibited in 1989, shortly after the gallery opened. We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone with her. 

Barbara Crane‘s work can be found in numerous collections worldwide including George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY), The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), Library of Congress (Washington, DC), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris, France), Museum of Photography (Thessaloniki, Greece), Amon Carter Museum of American Art (Forth Worth, TX), among others. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants in 1974 and 1988, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Photography in 1979, as well as many other grants and honors. Her archive will be housed at the Center for Creative Photography (Tucson, AZ), allowing the public and educators an opportunity to study her work in perpetuity. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

We will be hosting a special closing reception for Barbara Crane: The Polaroid Years and Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber: Empire on Saturday, April 28, 2018. If you missed the opening night reception, this is your last chance to enjoy both exhibitions before they close. Barbara Crane will be in attendance. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm. 

Image: Barbara Crane, Little Darlings, 2011 - 2012, From the Little Darlings series, 2] 3 x 2" Fuji Instant Color Film, Unique