For almost twenty years Tom Baril has been photographing flowers, objects, architecture and the landscape, exploring numerous ways of seeing and attending to presentation. His vision and insights into the natural beauty of sand, bulbs, and buildings is evident when one looks at his images. In 1997, only a few years after showing his work in galleries, his first book, Tom Baril, was published by 4AD. The book quickly sold out, and is now in its second printing.
Born in Vermont is 1952, Tom Baril studied photography at The School of Visual Arts in New York, where he earned a B.F.A. in photography in 1980. In his senior year, he began printing for various photographers, including Robert Mapplethorpe a relatively unknown artist at the time. He continues today to print Mapplethorpe's photographs for The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
While Tom Baril's work at the Mapplethorpe studio was an enormous education, he never stopped photographing for himself, perfecting his craft. The result of his hard work can be seen in his sensual images of tulips, sea shells, beaches, factory towers and bridges, all photographed with a large format camera. Photographing flawless rose buds, wilted daisies, architectural wonders as well as the beaches in Hawaii, Baril's eye captures the beauty of both the manicured and the unkempt, exposing nature's true qualities.
One look at Tom Baril's prints and the viewer is keenly aware that the photographer has mastered his craft. Photographing with unabashed reverence for beauty, Baril selenium tones his prints before placing them into black tea, creating a gold patina unlike anything seen before. The result of his darkroom savvy can be seen in photographs that radiate, commanding our attention.
Tom Baril was born in Connecticut in 1952. After graduating from New York's School of Visual Arts in 1980 with a BA in photography, he served as Robert Mapplethorpe's exclusive print maker. Since then Baril has distanced himself from the Mapplethorpe work and has enjoyed a solo career by bringing to us something uniquely his own- stunning imagery from both behind the camera and out of the darkroom.
In the last 25 years, printmaking is not all that Tom Baril has mastered. He embraces every nuance of his medium. Whether it is 4x5 Polaroid pinhole or 8 x 10 collodion wet-plate, Baril manages to astonish us with technically perfect and exquisitely pure prints. Baril’s studies include urban architecture, minimalist seascapes and meticulously detailed botanicals and still lifes.
One of Baril’s biggest accomplishments to date has been succeeding to change they way some people look at flowers. Few photographers are capable of bringing their viewers to look on something as familiar as a flower with such a new and fresh perspective. “If I am successful, the photograph reveals the underbelly, the overlooked and the under appreciated.”
In the words of one commentator, Baril's "exquisitely imagined and powerfully rendered" images are "...clearly founded upon the photographic masters of the past. But his tones and techniques demonstrate a contemporary vision, offering an elegant synthesis of artistic tradition and current aesthetics." In other words, the effect achieved in Baril's work is "both classic and contemporary."
Tom Baril’s work has been the subject of two monographs, the highly acclaimed sold out self-titled book published by 4AD in 1997, and Botanica published by Arena Editions in 1999. His work has been featured in numerous publications, and is among prestigious collections both public and private: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography, the George Eastman House, Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, The Fogg Museum at Harvard University, the Polaroid Collection, and the Elton John Collection.
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