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40 over 40- Through the Lens: Chicago Photographers

Tom Van Eynde

Tom Van Eynde

This article is part of Chicago Art Magazine’s “40 over 40” series.

Tom Van Eynde-
Tom Van Eynde questions the beauty of things through his photographs. In his 2008 exhibition at Linda Warren Gallery, Van Eynde took on those most romantic and most fragile objects, flowers, and deconstructed them, giving us only the artificial. Through his stunning commercial technique, and quirky style, Van Eynde forces us to look beyond the surface, to wonder the “how” and “why” of these false forms. Van Eynde states that, “if there is one purpose to my photography, it would be to make simple, elegant images.” Van Eynde has shown throughout the US, with exhibitions in Chicago, Memphis, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.

Paul D'Amato

Paul D'Amato

Paul D’Amato-
Paul D’Amato is a true photographer of Chicago. He has been working within Chicago communities, particularly Pilsen, for many years, building relationships of trust that allow him to make his intimate and nuanced works. His more recent projects include Please Be Free Now, a series based on his time spent with residents of Rockwell Gardens, Henry Horner, and Cabrini-Green. Kendra Greene notes that in these works, the subject’s expressions “register somewhere between resistance and resignation, as intense and complicated as their situation.” It is the conveyance of such complex subtexts through the simplicity of a portrait that D’Amato does so well. D’Amato is a recipient of, among other awards, a Guggenheim Grant and a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship. His work can be found in many museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Laura Letinsky

Laura Letinsky

Laura Letinsky-
Laura Letinsky (b. 1962) is a master of the contemporary still life. Unlike the classical Flemish still-lives her photographs elude to, her works show the passing of events, the detritus of human presence. In her own words: “I explore formal relationships between ripeness and decay, delicacy and awkwardness, control and haphazardness, waste and plentitude, pleasure and sustenance.” Though she is most well known for her still-life work, Letinsky also creates intimate portraits exploring human sexuality, as seen in her early Venus Inferred series. Letinsky is an internationally recognized photographer with works in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the LaSalle Bank Photography Collection, to name a few. She earned her MFA at Yale in 1991 and currently teaches at the University of Chicago.

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier-
Vivian Maier (1926 – 2009) was, arguably, an outsider artist: not formally trained, but with an eye for the streets of Chicago. Her works were discovered in 2007, and after her death two years later, forces conspired to bring her magnificent catalog to light.  Working for many years as a nanny on Chicago’s North Side, Maier took weekly trips into the city to shoot photographs, building an unseen archive of the streets of Chicago from the 1950s onward. Recently she was posthumously honored with a solo exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center (on display until April 3rd 2011).

Sandro

Sandro

Sandro-
Sandro is one of Chicago’s most well known commercial photographers, shooting ad campaigns for, among others: Nikon, Dove, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola, and Altoids. He isn’t however, simply a commercial photographer. Though he can make a mean product shot, Sandro also shoots penetrating portraits (John Malkovich is a favorite subject if his), and maintains a body of work exploring the less-than-perfect body, something entirely foreign to his commercial side. His personal portfolio was accepted as part of Catherine Edelman Gallery’s Chicago project, a validating honor that has placed Sandro firmly in both the commercial and fine art photography worlds.

Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey-
Chicago photographer, Dawoud Bey began his career with the exhibition of photos from 1975, “Harlem, USA,” and continues his prolific portrait photography practice, investigating, among many other issues, race and identity. Known for works that both conceal and reveal his subjects and their own narratives, Bey’s powerful photos are continuously challenging what portrait photography is capable of. Lauren Weinberg explains of a 2009 exhibition: “[Bey] took his 40 “Class Pictures” at 17 American high schools, including a few on the South Side. The large-scale portraits of contemporary teenagers derive their power from strong compositions, Bey’s knack for gaining his subjects’ trust and the autobiographical statement each teen writes…Bey’s project brilliantly reflects the diversity of America in the age of Obama.” Bey is also an author and educator, currently Distinguished College Artist and Professor of Photography at Columbia College. Bey received his MFA from Yale University.