American Photographer Tina Barney Depicts Privileged Lifestyles of European Subjects in Frist Center Exhibition

The Bridal Shop 2007, Tina BarneyTina Barney: The Europeans January 19–May 10, 2015

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts presents Tina Barney: The Europeans, a selection of sumptuous, large-scale color portraits that depict upper-class Europeans in their homes, surrounded by their prized artworks and opulent interiors that mark their privileged status. With an eye for detail, composition, and color, American photographer Tina Barney creates images that are renowned for their seductive beauty and poignant sociological insight. Frist Center Executive Director and CEO Susan H. Edwards, Ph.D., is curator of the exhibition, which will be on display in the Center’s Ingram Gallery January 19 through May 10, 2015.


Organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Tina Barney: The Europeans comprises 21 chromogenic color prints from the artist’s larger body of work by the same name. The sizable portraits invite viewers to inspect the backgrounds and surroundings that are often as significant to the photographic vignettes as the human subjects. “She is conscious of how artists from the Renaissance forward handle light, space, color, and composition, and she pushes herself and photography in similar directions,” says Dr. Edwards.


Between 1996 and 2004, Ms. Barney traveled to Austria, England, Italy, Spain, France and Germany with a large-format camera, lights and assistants. She gained access to the inner circles of Old World elite families with the help of friends and curators who provided introductions. With knowledge of French and some Italian, and her own natural instinct for propriety, she was a reassuring presence among strangers, and worked quickly and closely with her subjects devising tableaus that invoke a bygone elegance. The results are carefully staged yet intimate glimpses into the lives and homes of a reputedly reserved and private social class.

About Tina Barney 

Tina Barney was born in New York City in 1945 and studied at the Spence School in Manhattan and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities in Ketchum, Idaho. She began her career as a photographer in the mid-1970s and during the 1980s she rose to prominence through photographing her own family and friends in affluent coastal areas of the Northeast. In 1991, she was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and in 1996 she was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. Ms. Barney’s work can be seen in institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. She is represented by Janet Borden, Inc., New York City. Ms. Barney resides in New York City and Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

Exhibition Credit

This exhibition was organized by Susan H. Edwards, executive director and CEO, Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

Sponsor Acknowledgment

Presenting Sponsors: Robin and Richard Patton

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Related Public Programs

Friday, January 23
Double Feature Films: Tina Barney: Social Studies and Horst
7:00 p.m.

Frist Center Auditorium
Gallery admission required; members free
Seating is first come, first seated

Join us for a double feature of short documentaries related to the exhibition Tina Barney: The Europeans on view in the Ingram Gallery from January 19 through May 10, 2015.

Tina Barney: Social Studies follows the renowned photographer as she travels to Europe seeking fresh subjects and inspiration. Social Studies presents an intimate portrait of Barney, a woman born into privilege who has turned her world into art. Directed by Jaci Judelson. 2005. 57 minutes. DVD. NR.

Produced and directed by the photographer Tina Barney, Horst examines the career of one of the fashion world’s most elegant and influential photographers, Horst P. Horst. This rarely seen documentary film is a study of the artist’s work, ranging from his society portraits of the 1930s to the fashion shots and interiors made for Vogue, House and Garden, Architectural Digest, and Vanity Fair. 1988. 20 minutes. DVD. NR.

Wine, beer, and a full menu are available in the Frist Center Café and can be enjoyed during the screening.

Friday, February 13
Artist’s Perspective: Tina Barney: The Europeans Presented by Tina Barney
12:00 p.m.     

Frist Center Auditorium
Gallery admission required; members free
Seating is first come, first seated

Join New York-based photographer Tina Barney as she discusses Tina Barney: The Europeans, an exhibition of her work on view in the Ingram Gallery from January 19 through May 10, 2015. Barney began her journey into photography in the 1970s, first as a collector and later creating her own works of art. Large in format and rich in color, her most well-known works capture moments within the lives of the American and European elite. Barney will discuss her experiences photographing aristocratic men, women, and children in Austria, England, Italy, Spain, France and Germany as she created this body of work.

Friday, March 13
Art After Dark: Tina Barney: The Europeans Presented by Keri Jhaveri, youth and family educator
6:30–7:15 p.m.  

Meet at exhibition entrance
Gallery admission required; members free
Reservations recommended, but not required; call 615.744.3355 for reservations.

Enrich your Friday nights. Join in an open-ended discussion in the galleries to heighten your appreciation and understanding of the visual arts by exploring one work of art in depth with an educator in the galleries. The chosen work of art changes every session, making each visit a new experience. Space is limited to 15 participants to encourage visitor participation. Visit for additional dates. Tina Barney: The Europeans is on view in the Ingram Gallery from January 19 through May 10, 2015.

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