Barbara Crane, artist-photographer and educator, has explored photography as a vehicle for creative expression for over sixty years. The result has been a changing, ongoing body of conceptually consistent work, varied in approach and experimental in style. An early investigator of repetition and deconstruction of visual information, she has experimented extensively with sequences, grids, scrolls, and large modular murals. Crane has worked in many formats and materials, ranging from the intimate to the large scale, utilizing such diverse processes as platinum-palladium, Polaroid, image transfers, gelatin silver, and digital.
Born in Chicago in 1928, Barbara Crane studied at Mills College in California, completing her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History at New York University, and in 1966 received her Master of Science Degree from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She began teaching photography in 1964 and in 1967 joined the faculty at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago, retiring in 1995 as Professor Emerita of Photography. Barbara Crane has taught at professional art schools, universities and workshops worldwide. Over ninety one-person exhibitions since 1965 and seven retrospective exhibitions of her work have been mounted to date. The most recent, “Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision,” opened at the Chicago Cultural Center in October 2009 and traveled to the Griffin Museum of Photography in February 2011. Crane’s work is included in numerous national and international collections including George Eastman House/International Museum of Photography, Art Institute of Chicago, Polaroid International Collection, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France, Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Greece, the Hellenic American Union, Athens, Greece, in addition to private and corporate collections worldwide.
Barbara Crane has been the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts grants in 1974 and 1988, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Photography in 1979, and an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship Award in Photography in 2001. She received materials grants from the Polaroid Corporation from 1979 to 1995. In 2006 she was honored as a Distinguished Artist by both the Union League Club of Chicago and Brown University and was recently (Oct. 2009) named the first recipient of the Ruth Horwich Award to a Famous Chicago Artist.