new-york

Tina Barney

Janet Borden, Inc.

It would be nice to write a review of Tina Barney’s splendid new photographs without mentioning the dread words WASP, New England, or (worst of all) Ralph Lauren, but for most reviewers her work, with its focus on the lives of well-fed, conservatively clothed white people, raises the issue of class, and class is something Americans prefer not to think about. Barney clearly does think about it to the extent that she is aware that an individual’s fate is determined by income, education, and nurture, but she is entirely undoctrinaire. With a kind of anxious fidelity she records the lives of the people she knows best. They are relatively privileged people but Barney refuses to be judgmental. To dismiss Barney’s work because she is insufficiently hostile to her subject matter makes about as much sense as dismissing Mantegna because he glorified the Dukes of Mantua. Barney simply reveals her

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