Lisa Kereszi / 2005

With an eye for haunting detail, Lisa Kereszi creates a striking catalog of the unpolished scenes of days past through what was left behind.

The fourth Baum Award was presented to Lisa Kereszi in 2005 under the curatorial supervision of Heidi Zuckerman of the Berkeley Art Museum.

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Bus stop with sea spray, Governors Island, NY, 2003

Kereszi was born in 1973 in Chester, Pennsylvania. As the daughter of a junkyard owner and antique collector, her life was far from glamorous. Nonetheless, she found ways to decorate her life, filling the walls of her bedroom with pictures she took of friends, or images torn from magazines. Even though she loved to take photographs, she didn’t know how to make a career out of it. She was on track to be a writer, double majoring in English and photography at Bard University, until one prescient point in her college career when a professor told her she didn’t have the talent to make it as a writer. Dismayed but undeterred, she continued with photography and went on to receive a Master of Fine Art in Photography from Yale University in 2000.

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Disco ball in box, Conneticut. 2008

After graduation, Kereszi moved to New York City and worked as an assistant to photographer Nan Goldin. Goldin’s dark subject matter and avant-garde style resonated with Kereszi’s past, and the experience profoundly influenced her style. Not long after, in 2003, she and another photographer, Andrew Moore, were commissioned by the Public Art Fund to photograph Governor’s Island, the deserted government-owned island just outside of New York City. Out of this commission came some of Kereszi’s most notable works, such as “Water Fountain.” This body of work included, Governors Island, the series for which she was recognized as the Baum Award recipient in 2005.

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Water Fountain, PS 26, Governors Island, NY 2003

Kereszi’s gritty images of empty and abandoned spaces in and around New York create dramas from the remnants of people’s lives, and reveal her interest in fantasy, escape, and glamour. Her precise execution of photography captures the “mundane and overlooked” with a unique grace and familiarity that suggests a deeper story. In all of her work, one can see the reflection of the world that shaped her childhood–worn, simple, and unexciting. But from this she is able to draw both intrigue and a melancholic beauty. Each series is compiled over decades, developing several simultaneously, as Kereszi explores different locales and the elements of what’s been left behind.

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Three windows under pool, Sunrise Resort, Conneticut. 2008

Kereszi’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Bronx Museum of Art in New York. She also works successfully as a freelance photographer, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Nest, Details, Wallpaper, and other publications. She has served on the faculty at Yale University since 2004 as a Lecturer of Photography, and became Critic and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Art in 2013. She has published six monographs including, The More I Learn About Women, published by J&L Books in 2014.  Lisa Kereszi is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York City.




Credits – 2005 Baum Award

Host: Berkeley Art Museum
Curator: Heidi Zuckerman
Jury: Catherine Wagner, Artist
Kevin E. Consey, Director and Chief Executive Officer at the University of California Berkeley Art Museum
Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator in Charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Tara McDowell, Curatorial Associate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


Baum Award