About the Photographer
van Manen, Bertien
Dutch, b. 1942
Although Bertien van Manen began her professional career as a fashion photographer, her relationship to the medium changed early on in response to Robert Frank's influential publication The Americans (1958-9). She has made it her practice to inhabit the culture she is documenting and, to the best of her ability, live the lives of the people she photographs. By learning local languages and devoting time to personal relationships, she is able to gain access to places that are often inaccessible to a stranger with a camera, such as the homes of ordinary people. The resulting color photographs weave between the public and private lives of her subjects who, clearly at ease in her company, disclose to her camera a shifting reality in the face of social and cultural change.
In the last decade, van Manen has made pictures in Russia, the Ukraine, Nicaragua, and China. Born in Den Haag, Netherlands, she worked for several years as a fashion photographer before moving to documentary photography in 1977. Her history of exhibitions includes shows in France, Greece, The Netherlands, Canada, Hungary, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In addition, van Manen's photographs are held in many permanent collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as several European collections. She has won numerous prizes, including the 2003 Citibank Photographer's Prize.