Barbara Crane is a pioneering internationally renowned art photographer and influential educator who has explored photography as a vehicle for creative expression for over sixty years. A forerunner in experimental and abstract photography, Crane has explored numerous photographic processes throughout her extensive career. The result has been an ongoing evolving 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 intimate in size to large scale, utilizing such diverse photographic approaches as platinum-palladium, Polaroid processes, image transfers, gelatin silver and digital.
Born in Chicago in 1928, 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 from teaching in 1995 as Professor Emerita of Photography.
Crane’s photographic work has been featured in over ninety solo exhibitions since 1965 and seven retrospective exhibitions of her work have been mounted to date. “Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision,” an extensive career retrospective, was accompanied by a major monograph of the same title. The exhibition opened at the Chicago Cultural Center in October 2009 and has traveled to the Amon Carter Museum in Texas and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Massachusetts. Most recently, her work is featured in concurrent exhibitions––”The Polaroid Years” at Catherine Edelman Gallery and “Barbara Crane At Ninety: A Look At Selected Series” at Stephen Daiter Gallery in Chicago.
One of America’s leading photographic artists, Crane's work is included in numerous national and international public collections including George Eastman House/International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona, Bibliotheque Nationale and FNDC, Paris, France, Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Greece, and WestLicht Museum of Photography, Vienna, Austria, in addition to private and corporate collections worldwide.
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. In 2006 she was honored as a Distinguished Artist by both the Union League Club of Chicago and Brown University, and was named the first recipient of the Ruth Horwich Award to a Famous Chicago Artist conferred by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs in 2009. In 2013 she was honored by the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago and in 2015 received the Silver Camera Award from the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago. In April 2016 she received the Professional Achievement Award from the Illinois Institute of Technology.