A buffalo stands horns to head with a man who is calmly vacuuming the snow-covered plains beneath its feet. A herd of plastic-wrapped zebras surrounds a giraffe, while a man on scaffolding above paints them a lovely trompe l'oeil sky. Photographer Richard Barnes has spent more than ten years documenting the way we assemble, contain, and catalog the natural world. Barnes's behind-the-scenes photographs are haunting reminders that there is nothing natural about a natural history museum.
Animal Logic, Barnes's first monograph, collects four related species of his photographic work that touch on themes relevant to science, history, archaeology, and architecture. Through his lens sights and objects normally hidden from public view--half-installed dioramas, partially wrapped specimens, anatomical models, exploded skulls, and taxidermied animals in shipping crates--take on a strange beauty. Barnes peels back layers of artifice to reveal the tangle of artistry, craftsmanship, and curatorial decisions inside every lifelike diorama and meticulously arranged glass case. Animal Logic investigates both the human desire to construct artificial worlds for "the wild" and the haunting and poignant worlds the real wild constructs. Barnes's camera freezes migrating starlings to reveal the visual poetry hidden inside their dense formations. His extraordinary photographs of birds' nests constructed from detritus--string, plastic, milkweed, tinsel, hair, dental floss, pine needles--sculpturally embody our often complicated relationship with nature. Animal Logic presents more than 120 of Barnes's photographs and includes essays by Jonathan Rosen of the New York Times and curator Susan Yelavich, which explore the themes that emerge from Barnes's unique body of work.
Photo Eye Magazine:
"Altogether, Animal Logic constitutes an argument about what can and can't be shown using our familiar tools, and about the breadth of the field we must encompass in our attempts to gain understanding of our earthly context. All of these players and interpretive strategies have roles within the conceptual construct of Barnes's remarkable book, a profound, apt, and intelligent exploration of real world enigmas and natural science wonders. Click HERE to read the entire review on photoeye.com"
— George Slade
Lecture and Talks, The Academy of Natural Sciences:
"New York- and San Francisco-based photographer Richard Barnes has a fascination with natural history exhibits. His behind-the-scenes photographs are beautifully haunting reminders that there is nothing natural about a natural history museum. Animal Logic, the recently published mid-career survey of his work, looks critically at both the natural world and the ways in which people attempt to institutionalize and classify nature within museums. Through his lens, sights and objects normally hidden from public viewhalf-installed dioramas, exploded skulls, and taxidermied animals in shipping cratestake on a strange beauty. Animal Logic will be available for purchase at the event."
Cranbrook Institute of Science:
"This multifaceted, mid-career retrospective will showcase work from all of Richard Barness major recent photographic series, includingAnimal Logic, engaging and at times surreal images of dioramas and artifacts from natural history museums, and Refuge, which focuses on the hybrid architecture of urban bird nests that incorporate the detrius of human life."
Three Exhibitions and a Monograph for Richard Barnes FAAR06, Society of Fellows, American Academy in Rome:
"Animal Logic is also the name of Barnes just-released monograph. The book is published by Princeton Architectural Press and focuses on work done over the past 10 years, including images made during his fellowship at the Academysuch as starlings performing breathtaking aerial displays above Rome, primarily shot in EUR."
Galleries open to celebrate Art Detroit Now, The Detroit News:
"Friday evening, the Detroit Institute of Arts will unveil a new Fluxus installation in its contemporary galleries, while the Cranbrook Art Museum and Cranbrook Institute of Science fuse science and art with Animal Logic: Photography and Installation by Richard Barnes. To read the full review on detnews.com click HERE. "
— Michael H. Hodges
i before e:
"Animal Logic a new book published by Princeton Architectural Press, is the first monograph for acclaimed photographer Richard Barnes. Focusing on his work of the past decade, and his 2004 solo exhibition of the same name, the book presents over 100 photographs that explore the collecting and display of animals in natural history museums. His measured, pensive images illustrate the process involved in creating the artificial dioramas and displays. Click HERE to read the entire review on susan-fama.bolgspot.com"
— Susan Fama
Book By Its Cover:
"The most beautiful book came in the mail yesterday thanks to Princeton Architectural Press. Even upon opening the padded mailing envelope and seeing the cover photograph, I knew this book was going to be special. I immediately recalled my trip to Rome where I stood looking up mesmerized by the patterns the flocks of birds were making over the skies. It was magical. And this book feels equally magical with one out of the four section devoted to photographs of these swarms of birds. This is the first monograph of photographs by Richard Barnes. His work for over ten years has been focused mostly on documenting the way we assemble, contain, and catalog the natural world. Click HERE to read the entire review on book-by-its-cover.com"
— Julia Rothman
Daily Dose Pick: Richard Barnes, flavorwire:
"Photographer Richard Barnes reveals the artifice and strange beauty of animals in a natural-history museum. Barnes has spent over a decade cataloging the way we amass, conserve, and display elements of the natural world. His new monograph, Animal Logic, matches his images of the objects behind an exhibition partially wrapped specimens, anatomical models, exploded skulls, and taxidermied animals in shipping crates with counterparts from the real world inhabited by living wildlife. Referencing science, history, archaeology, and anthropology, Barnes work offers a reminder that there is nothing inherently natural about going to a museum to see animals. In his photos, a plastic-wrapped giraffe is suspended in midair against the trompe loeil backdrop of a savannah, a pack of stuffed wolves lunges at a museum preparer inspecting blades of grass, and other creatures (leopards, emus, and bears) hang out in packing crates. Explore the artists official website, read his interview with Rosencrans Baldwin, visit the Animal Logicexhibition at Michigans Cranbrook Art Musuem, and buy a copy of the new monograph. To read the full review on flavorwire.com click HERE. "
— Kelsey Keith
Richard Barnes: Museums, mortality and eternal return, The Night Train:
"Its a critical survey of the way we see nature from inside an institution, but with the incorporation of Murmur, a 2007 multimedia installation about starling migration in Rome, the exhibition takes on a layer of graveyard meditation, too: the defiance of death through the eternity of taxidermy (hints of humanitys romance with ancient Egypt, and Barnes worked there on a dig with Yale); the creepy liveliness of a mounted stags head; the second death of a stuffed specimen taken off display; with the starlings, aspirations of eternal return."
When the History Isnt Quite Natural, Metro International:
"In his first collection of photographs, Animal Logic, Richard Barnes lifts back the curtain on natural history museums, creating a backstage drama in diorama form. A man in surgical white meticulously places grass into the ground, mere inches from the jaws of two wolves; in another he vacuums the snow-covered plain underneath the head of a buffalo."
— Shaun Brady
Art in the 21st Century, The South End News:
"Saturday venues will include 50 galleries all over Metro-Detroit. Saturday from 16 pm, 50 galleries from Dearborn to Grosse Pointe, and Wyandotte to Rochester, will hold events, openings and special exhibitions. At 6 pm Cranbrook Art Museum, in its temporary location at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, will host an opening for Animal Logic: The Work of Richard Barnes. To read the full review on thesouthendnews.com click HERE. "
— Nicole Mannino
Diorama-o-rama, The Smart Set:
"This is likely why Richard Barnes's photographs of natural history dioramas in various state of repair have drawn attention since they were collected in a book of his work Animal Logic, released in the fall."
— Jesse Smith
A Bird In Hand, PDN:
"Every evening, in a certain area of Rome, thousands of starlings perform an intricate ritual. They fly in unison in various directions, creating massive shapes in the sky, before they settle down to roost...As humans we make sense of the actions of the starlings by seeing familiar shapes in their flight patterns, or ornithologists theorize about why the act takes place, but they dont know for sure. I like that kind of duality between what we bring to it and what the animals are actually doing, says Barnes."
— Conor Risch
Animal Logic, Photo-Dialogue:
"In Animal Logic, Richard questions our exploitative relationship to the 'other than human' world. He brings a deep interest in curatorial processes to his work, challenging our conception of what should be saved and what should be forgotten or discarded. On his website he asks, simply, "Whose past is worthy of collection and preservation and whose is expendable and why?"I think it is the notion that we are already choosing who is expendable that challenges me the most...Shifting from the complex beauty of airborne starlings to haunting images of crated gazelles, Richard's work prompts me to think that time is running out for many of our most spectacular species and, perhaps in turn, for the wider ecosystem. I realise I am fearful of the day when the curator holds our memory of the natural world."
— Steve Marshall
The Art of Natural History: Richard Barnes Breaks Out of the Museum , Treehugger:
"As a photographer, Richard Barnes has focused on exploring architecture and archaeology. From excavations in Egypt to Ted Kaczynski's cabin, Barnes has captured the border between contemporary culture and the built environment.Barnes' work has also led him into the museum. His photographs, however, are not contained by the walls of a museum. In his new book, Animal Logic, Barnes gives us a new look at a natural world that is inescapably touched by human influence."
— David DeFranza
Music, theater and more., Philadelphia Weekly:
"To classify Richard Barnes as an ex-wildlife photographer may be misleading. Its not the photographer who has stopped. Its the wildlife. For his latest book, Animal Logic, Barnes trains his camera on the musty, dusty world of those post-mortem critters spending their dirt naps in our natural history museums... Part archive, part autopsy, its perfectly weird. "
— Paul F. Montgomery
The Best Books of 2009, Photo-Eye Magazine:
"Photographer Richard Barnes has spent more than ten years documenting the way we assemble, contain, and catalog the natural world. Barnes's behind-the-scenes photographs are haunting reminders that there is nothing natural about a natural history museum. Animal Logic, Barnes's first monograph, collects four related species of his photographic work that touch on themes relevant to science, history, archaeology, and architecture. "
The New York Times Book Review:
"Barness first monograph collects his photographs of dioramas, taxidermy, animal skulls, bird migrations and nests. He explores both humans artificial constructions of the wild, and the true wilds shaping of its own environment."
— Stephan Burt
Flock 'n' Roll, The Observers Very Short List:
"As spooky as it is beautiful."