In the early 1980s, photographer Barbara Crane embarked on a photographic project shot during Chicago’s various summer festivals. Armed with a Super Speed Graphic camera and Polaroid film, Crane waded in close to the revelers and focused on capturing the details of clothing and hairstyles, but most important, gesture. The images are tightly cropped and terrifically alive, viscerally bringing us into the crush of people eating, drinking, and enjoying the crowd dynamic—an incredible inventory of private gestures performed in public spaces.
Private Views offers an intense, sun-drenched, sweat-glistening photographic experience. The effect is mesmerizing and intensely compelling, creating a palpable sensuality from image to image—an incredible document, not of a particular event or personalities, but of something less tangible: the public expression of euphoria.
Barbara Crane (born in Chicago, 1928) studied art history at Mills College, completing her BA at New York University in 1950. In the Institute of Design’s graduate photography program she studied with Aaron Siskind, among others. Her work has been the subject of six retrospectives and more than 76 solo exhibitions. A professor emeritus of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is represented by Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; Higher Pictures, New York; and Galerie François Paviot, Paris.
Barbara Hitchcock (essay) is curator and director of the Polaroid Collection in Concord, Maine.