Skip to content

Chic Banal

February 10, 2009

I was thinking about 21st Century photography this morning when my daughter Tobey started telling me about “chic banal” in fashion. My coruscating mind realized that “chic banal” was also dominating contemporary photography. Chic banal represents those pictures of suburbia, Americana, and/or the affluent lifestyle gone slightly askew, as pioneered by Gregory Crewdson (BTW, Check out this Aperture link). It is also meticulously documented in those precious moments of the affluent photographer’s perfect life, as initiated by Tina Barney.


Tina Barney (above) and Crewdson certainly represent the best of this trend initiated in the late 1970s. Artists who are having fun with their immediate world ,circa 2009, include Amy Stein.

domesticated_1Amy Stein

She actually takes off on a 1980s concept by Barbara Norfleet.

Barbara Norfleet

Barbara Norfleet

Graham Miller also merges the film set with suburbia and/or the city.

Graham Miller

Graham Miller

Miller is spring boarding his ideas from Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

dicorciabrent_boothPhilip-Lorca diCorcia

It seems that 21st Century photography isn’t so different than late 20th Century practice. Is “chic banal” only the same old, same old? I guess that’s what makes it banal.

It all brings to mind William Eggleston, the master of the banal who was making it all look easy in the 1970s.


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 10, 2009 11:34 pm

    Frank, Our discussions on Tina Barney really stood out in my mind. A few particular photographs to be exact also. Thank you for making this post.

    On an unrelated topic. I picked up a copy of JPG today when I was at Barns and Noble. I saw it staring me in the face as I was trying to find something more dynamic to read. I picked it up, and the first page I turned to, had a portrait of a Tibetan woman. Your name popped right of the page. A second later I was purchasing the publication. Thats totally awesome Frank, that I am here in Boston and stumble upon your name and work in a publication. Keep up the inspiration.


Leave a Reply to Jeffrey Byrnes Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: