Shared Space: Artist Bios

Image: Wout Berger, Vietnam (Cat Ba Island), 1998. Color coupler print, 1998 negative, printed 2003, 4/12. Courtesy of the artist.

Artists in the Shared Space exhibition are among the world's best contemporary photographers. Explore their bios and the links below to learn more.

Olivo Barbieri is widely recognized for his unique and often innovative techniques. After finishing his studies in photography at the University of Bologna, his interest turned to artificial lighting and later to documenting his travels to the Far East. Whether it is aerial views of urban scenes or his pictures of almighty natural features, Barbieri’s ability to focus the viewfinder on detail informed his most innovative photography.

Possibly his most influential images are those he made by tilting the camera lens to varying degrees and simulating a shallow depth of field, commonly used in macro photography. This creates the effect of miniature still life images from actual landscapes. His skill in manipulating scale and focus is often seen as inversing reality and presents surreal as well as hyper-real images. The tilt-shift technique and other artwork by the Italian film-maker and photographer has been exhibited widely at international galleries and fairs, including Venice Biennale in 1993, 1995 and 1997, The Hayward Gallery in London and has won awards in film festivals in Seville and San Francisco, among many others.

Wout Berger has long been beguiled by marginal, distressed landscapes. Beginning with Giflandschap (Poisoned Landscape) in the late 1980s, which featured 170 contaminated sites where he found nature to be thriving and producing vibrant flora and fauna, Berger later compiled photographs of plants in Ruigoord, a small village on the outskirts of Amsterdam that was heavily seeded with wildflowers to avoid erosion. His next venture, taking photographs of people from various walks of life, led him to explore outside of his native country and capture landscapes where there is a conflict or a clear definition between development, human presence and nature.

Berger’s work has been exhibited extensively with solo exhibitions at Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York; in the Netherlands at Galerie Van Kranendonck, The Hague; and Galerie Polaris, Paris. His work is also held at prominent institutions including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo, Japan; and LaSalle National Bank, Chicago.


Edward Burtynsky photographs dramatic and often surreal landscapes altered by industry, showing beauty and ugliness around the world. A champion of sustainability and education, Burtynsky founded Toronto Image Works, a darkroom rental facility, custom photo laboratory, digital imaging and new media computer-training center. In 2005, Burtynsky won a TED Prize and has since helped to infuse energy into the website, which has helped it to grow into a leading voice in the sustainability community.

Burtynsky sits on the board of directors for Toronto’s international photography festival, Contact and the Ryerson Gallery and Research Center. Prior exhibitions include Oil (2009) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. (five-year international touring show), Manufactured Landscapes at the National Gallery of Canada (touring from 2003-05), Before the Flood (2003), and China (toured 2005-08). He graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Photography and later studied graphic art at Niagara College in Welland.


American photographer Gregory Crewdson uses filmic devices to stage elaborate and psychologically tense scenes for his images. Operating on an epic scale, he uses a large crew to shoot and then develop the images during post-production. Crewdson’s Hollywood flair in production is at odds with the subject he tends to frame: suburban interiors or eerily lit main streets in small towns, blanketed with atmospheric fog or rain.

He has published several books of his photographs including Hover with ArtSpace Books, Dream of Life with the University of Salamanca, Spain, Twilight and Beneath the Roses with Abrams and a retrospective book of his work, entitled Gregory Crewdson from 1985 to 2005, published by Hatje Cantz. Crewdson’s newest body of work, Sanctuary, premiered at Gagosian Gallery in New York in 2010 then traveled to White Cube in London and Gagosian Gallery in Rome. Crewdson received a B.A. from the State University of New York at Purchase in 1985 and an M.F.A. in photography from Yale in 1988. He is an adjunct professor at the Yale University School of Art.


Swinging between creating casual snapshots and carefully composed images, Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s photographs have shifted over time. After attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, diCorcia went on to get an M.F.A. from Yale in 1979, where he launched into making constructed tableaux using friends and family and well-known spaces as props and stages. DiCorcia is associated with the Boston School of photographers, which included David Armstrong, Nan Goldin and Shelburne Thurber among others. During the 1970s, this group of American East Coast artists started to defy the conventions of the photographic medium. In the late 1980s, diCorcia shifted his photography to streetscapes and focused on representing urban life with passers-by and pedestrians as the main subject.

In 1995 the Museum of Modern Art published a book surveying his work, and other publications have followed. Twin Palms published A Storybook Life in 2003, diCorcia’s first self-produced book, which featured an experimental narrative sequence and toured as an exhibition through 2005.


Known for video and photographic works, artist Ken Fandell uses digital techniques and software to manipulate images, often combining them to produce large-scale framed works or gigantic murals. Perhaps the best-known example of Fandell’s work is an installation of a pair of murals of cloud-filled skies, Days and Nights, Dawns and Dusks, North and South, East and West, Mine and Yours (2008) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Fandell’s work often addresses the idea of the epic at the same time as the banal, exploring universal subjects such as infinity, control, and our physical limitations as humans but infuses them with a sense of humor and drama.

Having received a B.F.A. in 1993 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fandell went on to complete a Masters in 1996 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is currently an assistant professor at the Art Institute of Chicago and has exhibited his work around the United States in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, among others.


German painter, sculptor and photographer Günther Förg studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich under Karl Fred Dahmen from 1973 to 1979. His first solo exhibition was held at the Rüdiger Schöttle gallery in Munich in 1980. In 1992, his work was shown at the documenta IX, followed by an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1995. His canvases and installations, employing multiple objects and materials, frequently blur the lines between painting, photography and sculpture. Because of the simplicity and repetition in his work, he is often referred to as an artist of the minimalist tradition. His photographs tend to incorporate frames and mirrored forms, but the subject of Förg’s large-format photography is predominantly Bauhaus architecture or deserted fascist buildings. His photography, paintings, murals and mixed-media work are held in collections across the world, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Guggenheim Museum, Berlin; and the Tate Modern, London, among others.


Ben Gest’s images are lightly orchestrated, subtly manipulated to create ostensibly informal snapshots. Often printing onto large, color canvases, Gest’s subjects — frustrated parents, bored children, lonely housewives in domestic environments — appear at a human scale and their anxiety and concentration in that captured moment is palpable. By photographing his subjects separately and subtly arranging them together digitally, Gest creates emotionally and physically charged scenes that challenge the traditions of portrait and documentary photography.

Gest earned a B.A. from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. in photography from Colombia College, Chicago and has exhibited in such institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. His photographs have been shown in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; the Renaissance Society in Chicago; and Light Work in Syracuse, N.Y. Gest teaches in the International Center of Photography in New York City.


Andreas Gursky is best known for his large-scale photographic work portraying anonymous, man-made spaces. Before training under the New Topographics movement, Gursky tried and failed to get into photojournalism, turning to study at the Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf in 1980 with the encouragement of photographer Thomas Struth. In 1981, he set up a darkroom with friends and began working solely in color. In the mid-1980s, he played with juxtapositions of nature and industry and made sharply detailed photographs of groups of people in the landscape. In the 1990s, he traveled around the world photographing buildings, factories and hotels in Tokyo, Cairo, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Gursky’s images increasingly grew in size and he took to digitally retouching and altering his negatives, and in 2001, he finished Stockholder Meeting, whose setting was an entirely digital fabrication.

His work has been exhibited in international exhibitions, including the Internationale Foto-Triennale in Esslingen (1989 and 1995) the Venice Biennale (1990), and the Biennale of Sydney (1996 and 2000).


Between 1987 and 1994, Jitka Hanzlova studied visual communication at Essen University, specializing in photography. During her studies, she regularly visited her native village, Rokytník in eastern Bohemia, and photographed the locals in their neighborhoods. Hanzlova’s work often explores the ways in which the image of a person relates to her identity.

Shifting themes over time, Hanzlova’s subject moved from mapping inhabitants and the urban, spatial aspects of Essen in the series Bewohner or Inhabitants to portraits of 53 women of different ages and backgrounds in European and North American streets, Female. In Forest, she focused on capturing the trees in the Carpathian Mountains. Hanzlova’s ability to single out and put the subject in sharp relief sets her apart from many other photographers who see the context as inextricable.

She was awarded the Otto Steinert Photography Prize in 1993 and European Photography Prize in 1995 and was shortlisted for the Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize 2000 and 2003.


Sze Tsung Leong spent his childhood in Mexico, Britain and the United States. He attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena from 1987 to 1989 and received the Eisner Prize in Photography from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. Five years, later he received a master’s degree from Harvard University. In 2005, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Leong’s photographs of buildings up-close and at a distance are captivating for their detail as well as their breadth and reveal his long-term interest in perspective drawings.

Citing photographer Thomas Struth as an influence, Leong’s effort to incorporate blankness into his images can be seen in much of his work. In 2002, Leong began Cities, which concretized his interest in the urban environment and its capacity to represent human achievement. In 2006, his book History Images featured a series of photographs of cities changing through political and physical development, particularly China in the throes of modernization. His next, Horizons, will feature breathtaking panoramic photographs of rural landscapes and major cities.


The New York-based visual artist’s work has been influenced by the upheaval that followed the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the shift in public behavior in Iran. Shirin Neshat looks at women’s role and place in Islam, political and social oppression and the resulting psychological impact. After studying at Berkley, Neshat helped her husband run the Storefront for Art and Architecture and cites the exposure she had to different ideologies as a significant inspiration for her work. She first gained prominence with Women of Allah, a series of photographs depicting women in veils carrying guns with their skin covered in Islamic poetry.

In 1998, Neshat met Iranian artist and filmmaker, Shoja Azari, with whom she made the films Turbulent, Rapture and Fervor. She directed and acted in Soliloquy, which shows a Muslim woman in negotiation between East and West, tradition and present-day pressures.

Neshat is the winner of numerous awards, including the Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art Peace Award and the Golden Lion Award, the First International Prize at the 48th Venice Biennial (1999).


Trained in engineering, computer science and technical drawing, Walter Niedermayr took up filming and photography in 1970. Niedermayr’s photographs, divided into diptychs and triptychs, characterize a desire to illustrate the relationship between man and nature. His Alpine Landscapes series shows people dwarfed by the snow-covered mountains that envelop them. To exaggerate this effect, Niedermayr underexposed the photos, producing powerful and inconceivable natural landscapes.

This surreal, conceptual approach chimed with the work of Japanese architects of SANAA and, from 2000, Niedermayr collaborated with the firm to produce an exhibition of photographs and later the photobooks Titlis and the Sachsenhausen. Niedermayr’s instinct for working collaboratively led him to publish his latest book, Recollection, which also contains essays by Amir Hassan Cheheltan and Lars Mextorf. Niedermayr’s work has been exhibited around the world and in his native Bolzano, where he is a teacher at the School of Design and Arts at the Free University.


Gabriel Orozco’s artwork traverses continents and disciplines, as he masters drawing, photography, sculpture, installation, and painting. Orozco’s embrace lends itself to questions of infinity and reality, framed with humor and surprise. His installation Knights Running Endlessly, an extended chess board filled with an army of horses, imbues a well-known game with an element of futility. Orozco’s instinct to subvert the familiar runs Black Kites, a human skull covered with a graphite grid, and La DS, in which he surgically reduced a Citroen DS to two-thirds its normal width.

This response to a basic human need to identify with the things around us is evident in Until You Find another Yellow Schwalbe. While living in Berlin, Orozco cycled around the city on his yellow Schwalbe photographing every yellow Schwalbe, compiling 40 images in an installation.

His work was featured in documenta X and XI and has been shown in galleries around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art for its biennial, the Kunsthalle Zürich and at the Venice Biennale in 1993, 2003 and 2005.


Though his images of landscapes dotted with floating luminous balls possess a certain element of whimsy, Tokihiro Sato’s pictures are careful constructions and give an impression of points of reference. While trying to illuminate a wire sculpture he had made, Sato used a pencil torch to draw light tracks around the structure. Its effect was magical and made a profound impression on the young artist. By using long exposures, Sato would position himself with a mirror to the sun in front of the camera, moving with the path of light so as to map space and depth within his photograph’s frame.

Sato received a B.F.A. in Sculpture at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music followed by a Master’s. Since 1999, he has been an associate professor in the Department of Inter Media Art. Since 1999 he has been an associate professor in the Department of Inter Media Art at the Tokyo National University of Arts (known also as “Geidai”). Sato’s work has been exhibited extensively internationally, as part of the 1997 6th Havana Art Biennale and the 9th Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh in 1999 among others.


Raghubir Singh melded Westernized approaches with native Indian philosophy, and his photographs are acclaimed for their organization of space and capacity to reflect contemporary India. In his early work, Singh focused on the geographic and social anatomy of cities and regions of India. In 1998 the Art Institute of Chicago exhibited a retrospective exhibition, which was still on show at the time of his death. The book River of Colour was published to accompany the show, while his last work A Way into India, published posthumously, used his Hindustan Ambassador car as a camera obscura, with the doors and windshield as a frame and counterpoint to the streetscapes and scenes outside.

His work is part of the collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, among others. He taught at the School of Visual Arts, Columbia University and Cooper Union.


Known for his street portraiture, the Swiss visual artist documents urban dwellers in their natural habitat: the city. Beat Streuli works with a variety of media, from large-format color photographs and installations of slide and video projections to billboards and large-scale window installations on the facades of public buildings. His camera freezes the flow of everyday life and the movement of people.

Keen not to rely on digital manipulation or staging photographs, Streuli’s focus is on presenting reality for what it is, which is often heterogeneous and uneventful. Using a telephoto lens, Streuli’s photographs are, in many ways, voyeuristic, but there is little drama apart from the individual’s own thoughts, caught in Streuli’s lens.

His work has been shown across the world from New York to Dundee in Scotland to Vienna, Austria and Shanghai, China.


Thomas Struth trained at the Dusseldorf Academy from 1973 until 1980 where he initially studied painting under Peter Kleemann and, from 1974, Gerhard Richter. Drawn to photography, Struth joined the new photography class run by Bernd and Hilla Becher, in 1976. In the mid-1980s, Struth started to produce family portraits. Informed by a meeting with psychoanalyst Ingo Hartmann, these works attempt to show underlying social dynamics. In 1989 Struth began work on Museum Photographs, devoted to the visitors to some of the world’s great museums and buildings, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musee du Louvre in Paris and the Pantheon in Rome.

In 2003, Richter asked Struth to make a family portrait for an article in the New York Times Magazine. In 2011, he was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to make a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. From 1993 to 1996, Struth was the first professor of photography at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany. In 2010-11 he served as Humanitas Visiting Professor in Contemporary Art at Oxford University.


The title of Bertien van Manen’s latest book, Let’s Sit Down Before You Go, refers to a common Russian custom for people to pause before departing on a long journey and think about where they have come from, where they are going and why. The series of photographs represents van Manen’s desire to develop relationships with her subjects and immerse herself in the environment and people she photographs. Her many travels and intensive contact with the people she met resulted in the book A Hundred Summers, a Hundred Winters in 1994, and in 2001, she published East Wind West Wind, which was shot in China. In 2005, Van Manen published Give Me Your Image, a compilation of photos of interiors in which the residents had placed a private photo of their own.

Her photographs have appeared in the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Photographers Gallery in London; and Photo Museum Winterthur; and are held in collections at the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris).


After high school, Massimo Vitali moved to London to study photography at the London College of Printing. Initially pursuing a career in photojournalism in the late 1970s, Vitali later worked as a cinematographer in television and film, becoming director of fiction and advertising films in 1989. In 1993, after his other camera equipment was stolen from his car, he turned his attention to using a large-format camera and, two years later, began a series of images that depicted people at play, masses at leisure. These large-scale, bright photographs of people on beaches began in 1995 and apply a topographical clarity and wealth of detail to the rites and rituals of modern leisure. Giving the viewer a voyeuristic advantage, they are also tinged with discomfort and the ongoing project highlights the hedonism and the homogeneity of group activity.

Vitali’s work is held in collections around the world including the Stedelijk Museum, Netherlands; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain; and the Elton John Collection.