Critics’ Picks

Tina Barney, 4th of July on Beach, 1989, chromogenic color print, 30 x 40".

New York

Tina Barney

Kasmin | 297 Tenth Avenue
297 Tenth Avenue
January 17–March 3, 2018

I found myself in the shoes of a voyeur, visiting Tina Barney’s landscapes here at night. Through the evening-lit gallery glass, the photographer’s frozen frames of summer looked more sinister than they had during a daytime trip. Her seemingly clichéd pictures of the seasons—as we see in works such as Drive-In 2017, Tennis Court, 1988, and 4th of July on Beach, 1989—are so obsessively formal that they bring out the shiver beneath nostalgia’s blush.

Barney serves up an ice-cream headache—a sweet, saturated world in which one is constantly seduced by sumptuous details yet held at a chilly distance. But this only exacerbates the desire to enter the glistening reality of her prints. While the earliest work in the exhibition is from 1988, one would be hard-pressed to figure out the exact years all of her images were taken. Barney’s photos feel impossibly consistent. It’s as if linear time had collapsed into the blur of New England’s collective memory, a kind of whitewashed forever.

A departure from Barney’s usual portraiture, the exhibition reveals a different aspect of the artist’s practice—one that’s focused on outdoor space and the way its beauty reflects our values. Of course, like all pretty things, nothing is as harmless or as luxurious as it seems, and in the artist’s landscapes one sees the way expectation laps away at the myth of the quaint Yankee beach town.