Thomas W. Harney
(b.1947; resides Oak Park, IL)
I’m set on the idea of taking photographs every day with the belief these photographs start to make sense as a body of work - that’s as close as I’m willing to come to identifying a project. —Tom Harney
The work of street photographer Tom Harney makes allusions to earlier photographers, and his career was helped early on by the guidance of Barbara Crane, but its clearest influence no doubt comes from his friend Garry Winogrand. Indeed, Winogrand’s series Women are Beautiful might well find its masculine counterpart in Harney’s photographs. Always shot in the city, Harney’s pictures explore a range of men, their status and activities, their relationship to women and how they relate to each other. Sitting on one another’s shoulders to form a human tower, a trio of men wins the smiling approval of their poolside male onlookers in one picture. In another, the profile of a boy selling newspapers blends into the myriad shapes and reflections of the plate glass windows that surround him. Harney often takes the homeless as his subject, including a striking quotation of Paul Strand’s 1916 street portrait Blind, but the gravity in these pictures is balanced by a great wit in many of the others: a microphone is held up to Jesus on the cross during a reenactment of the crucifixion, a priest kisses the bride as the groom standing next to him looks on.
Harney is the recipient of grants from City 2000 and Changing Chicago Project. His photographs have been exhibited in Chicago at Stuart Baum Gallery, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Chicago Historical Society, ARC Gallery, and Truman College. They are also included in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.