Katy Grannan / 2004

Through each distinctive portrait, Katy Grannan draws from the mundane, the overlooked, to highlight her subjects’ individuality.

The third Baum Award was presented to Katy Grannan in 2004 under the curatorial supervision of Heidi Zuckerman of the Berkeley Art Museum.

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Brian, b. 1976, from Mystic Lake, 2004

Grannan was born in 1969 in Arlington, Maine, and grew up with her father who worked as an undertaker, inevitably exposing her to the reality of mortality and death at an early age. She established her affinity for portraiture photography during her time at Yale University, where she received her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in 1999. For one of her first projects during the MFA program, she posted an advertisement in the local newspaper calling for volunteer models to be photographed. Initially, she would only photograph women, but as she became more comfortable working with strangers, she branched out and photographed anyone that answered her advertisement.

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Anonymous, San Francisco, 2009, Boulevard

Grannan’s striking portraits examine the desire of her subjects to offer themselves up to the camera lens. “We believe we’re presenting ourselves one way, but the camera always reveals something more vulnerable despite our best efforts,” she says. In the beginning, she would go into the homes of her subjects to photograph them. Eventually, she began to select natural settings and captured the models in a variety of locations: from rivers and beaches to forests and parks. Many of the people had never modeled before and were just looking for a change of pace, bringing a quality of honesty and vulnerability to her artistry that speaks to the relationship of artist and subject. This series of photographs were selected for the Baum Award in 2004 and later became, Model American: Katy Grannan, the artist’s first monograph, published by Aperture in 2005.

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Roberta, b. 1981, from Mystic Lake, 2004

After moving from New York to San Francisco in 2006, Grannan began working with others who had migrated west in search of the proverbial blue skies and dreams to be fulfilled. These photographs became her second monograph, The Westerns, published by San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery. In 2015, her projects, The 99, and, Boulevard, marked the beginning of her “street photographs,” a period when she took to the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco to photograph marginalized communities.

BOULEVARD_2009_Anonymous, San Francisco, 2009_2_Print Ready

Anonymous, San Francisco, 2009, Boulevard

She worked with individuals over a period of weeks, or even months, to capture the characters of people otherwise invisible to society. These photographs evolved into works that gravitated away from previous scenes set in the individual’s home or a natural setting, to the use of bright white backdrops that cast the viewers’ full attention on the person staring back.

Grannan’s photographs were included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Her solo exhibitions include the Arles Photography Festival in France; 51 Fine Art in Antwerp, Belgium; Artemis Greenberg Van Doren Gallery; and Salon 94 in New York. Grannan’s work is included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum in New York. As of 2016, she lives and works in Berkeley, California, and is represented by Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and Salon 94, New York.

Credits – 2004 Baum Award

Host: Berkeley Art Museum
Curator: Heidi Zuckerman
Jury: Bob Riley, Director and Curator at the Nelson Gallery at UC Davis and former media arts curator, San Francisco Museum of modern Art
Eungie Joo, Gallery Director and Curator of REDCAT in Los Angeles
Nora Kabat Dolan, former Curator of Exhibitions & Public Programs, SITE Santa Fe
Richard Misrach, landscape photographer


Baum Award