Jill Greenberg

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Jill Greenberg Biography

b. 1967, Montreal. American & Canadian .Jill Greenberg is an internationally renowned artist and photographer whose work is instantly recognizable due to her personally executed postproduction and her mastery of studio lighting. Since the age of 10, Jill has staged photographs and created characters using the mediums of drawing, painting, sculpture, film and photography. Her background in illustration and painting is evident in her work, and her background in semiotics and art history is evident in the subject matter she explores. An early adopter of digital effects, Greenberg has developed a world that is more intense, more razor- sharp than the one in which we actually reside. Jill Greenberg creates portraits that seize our attention and tug at our emotions. Best known for her infamous series, "End Times," her work struck a nerve in its exploration of environmental themes exploiting the raw emotion of toddlers unable to use their words. Additionally, she is recognized for her portrait work of animals, exploring the trope of studio and celebrity portraiture as well as power dynamics between viewer and subject, humans and animals. These series were photographed on medium format film, then drum scanned, and finally enhanced with digital “hand painting” techniques. "Glass Ceiling," and "Horse," marked a return to the 80's feminist theory that inspired her senior thesis, "The Female Object" while an art student at RISD in the 80's. The “Horse” series investigated the persistent dual gender representations as well as parallels with the treatment of women. “Glass Ceiling” toyed with candy colored, luscious feminine hues which belied the violent undertones telegraphed by Greenberg rendering professional swimmers appearing headless and incapacitated, shot in full SCUBA gear at the bottom of a Culver City swimming pool.As a working photographer she travails to straddle the line between the commissioned work which funds her fine art practice. Further, her unique gaze as a working commercial female photographer, when directed back at her gallery work, allows a constant interrogation of the image politics and methodologies at work in a culture where pictures have become the de facto universal language. Greenberg has been using Photoshop in 1990: early digital JPEG drawings and body part scans were the basis of her application to the Whitney Program for Independent Study in 1993. In 1997, her wide-angle, forced perspective fun-filled images captured the zeitgeist, and were much imitated. In 2001 Greenberg developed a lighting diagram for her simian portraits, and now the shiny, haloed 7-light studio technique have become the go-to art school photography assignment; the set-up was obsessively deconstructed on youtube in multiple languages (despite having never been checked for accuracy.) 4 monographs have been released: "Monkey Portraits*" and "Bear Portraits" published by Little, Brown. In 2012, Rizzoli published the large format glossy "Horses". In 2013, TF Editores and DAP published her seminal series, "End Times" with essays by Bill Moyers, and Jo-Ann Conklin of Brown University. Recent exhibitions include “Paintings” in New York City, "End Times" and Monkey "Portraits" in Amsterdam, and a major mid-career survey at Stockholm's Fotografiska; and “Commentary and Dissent,” in Culver City, Los Angeles—a body of disparate work poking fun at both political art and advertising tropes. Jill Greenberg is no stranger to controversy, and she certainly doesn't shy away from it when it finds her. Her photo series "End Times," which depicts toddlers sobbing their eyes out, caused so much outrage when it was first shown in 2006 that one blogger proclaimed Greenberg "should be arrested and charged with child abuse." "It was really hurtful and upsetting," Greenberg said over the phone from Milk Studios in New York, where she was shooting a hip-hop star for a GQ editorial. At first glance, the photos in the 35-photo series, which have been collected in a new book, also called End Times, seem relatively benign. They're ethereally lit images of Greenberg's own children, and her friend's children, doing what they do naturally: cry. Greenberg uses them, however, to make a political statement about the failures of the now defunct Bush Administration or to address issues of religious fundamentalism -- each image bears a title like "Angry Country" or "Deniability," and is accompanied with a disturbing news headline from the era. "People want to explain why the images make them feel something," says Greenberg, "and they assume that feeling is bad." Today, the political message has lost some of its relevance, but the images continue to resonate, usually for reasons beyond Greenberg's control. Recently, she discovered two End Times photos posted on Instagram with the title "What I'll be doing for the next six months patiently waiting for The Walking Dead to come back." Seeing them appropriated for what Greenberg angrily describes as "nonsense" is something that happens all of the time. Greenberg's current work is primarily concerned with the insidious presence of sexism in the world. One recent project, "Glass Ceiling," depicts women in high heels swimming in a pool -- they are shot in such a way that their heads appear cut off.