Stephen Wirtz Gallery is pleased to present Survey, an exhibition of photographs spanning an eight-year period by New York-based artist Tanyth Berkeley.
Survey presents a selection of Berkeley’s luminous photographic portraiture of women who possess rarefied, odd, and unusual beauty. The exhibition features some of Berkeley’s most notable muses, including several portraits of Grace, an Albino woman whom she has worked with frequently since her earliest celebrated body of work, Orchidaceae, in 2004.
The title Survey also could refer to Berkeley’s acuity in observing unique individuals in her daily life in New York City. She invites people she encounters on the subway and other public places to pose for her camera. Her eye rejects our culture’s accepted notions of beauty, and with a deep curiosity and keen appreciation of the wonders of the natural world, she uses her camera to create visionary images of people who, like rare blooms, are enchanting, delicate, and startlingly unusual in appearance.
Berkeley is inspired by her deep knowledge of art history, the tradition of model as muse, and nature’s splendor. Her work makes frequent reference to historical painting, most specifically the pre-Raphaelite movement, resulting in photographs that are at once anachronistic and cinematic. The photographs conjure a sense of familiarity and memory in the viewer—perhaps we’ve seen this woman before—with her subjects appearing almost like magical creatures thrust into our time from earlier eras. Berkeley’s camera captures them in states of reverie or introspective moments—eyes averted, thoughts disconnected from our time, perhaps away to otherworldly places, or to times past.
Tanyth Berkeley was born in Hollywood, California, and currently lives and works in New York. She received her MFA in photography from Columbia University in 2004 and holds a BA from CCNY in photography and creative writing. Her work was featured in "New Photography" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2007.