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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Ellen Carey

Dates:  1952 -
Born:  US
Active:  US
American photographer. 
Artist statement: 
I approach photography as picture making rather than picture taking. I am interested, both visually and conceptually, in chaos theory, fractal geometry, and symmetry and asymmetry as found not only in art, but nature, science, mathematics, and architecture. Order and randomness both play key roles in the creation of my work, which has affinities to Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, and Minimalism.
One question frequently asked about my work is How was this picture made? More recently, this has been joined by the question What is this a picture of? With these two questions my art not only confronts photography-as-process but also challenges the prescribed expectation that photographs depict reality.
Abstraction in photography is a virtual contradiction in terms. It is at the particular intersection where a photograph is devoid of any recognizable image that I wish to concentrate my artistic, intellectual and aesthetic energies. Minimalism remains distinctly underdeveloped in photography, but is well established in contemporary painting and sculpture. My photographs share specific affinities with the art of Dan Flavin, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, and Donald Judd. The work of all these artists has a sublime presence and a timeless eloquence that not only challenges ideas about what is and what is not art, but also carries with it spiritual and perceptual overtones that are existentially self-defining. In my own work, this same combination of qualities can be seen in a palette linked with the stained-glass window of my Catholic upbringing that serves as the basis for a rigorous investigation of light, that primary agent responsible for all photography.
My pictures are reminiscent of distant galaxies and nebulae taken with a large telescope or the interior microphotographs of tissue, optical nerves and cells. I have created rich fields of marks that are clearly abstract, mysterious and full of ambiguities while paradoxically introducing the gestalt of forms and metaphors.

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Further research

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If you have a portrait of this photographer or know of the whereabouts of one we would be most grateful.
Family history 
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Exhibitions on this website

Contemporary photographers
ThumbnailEllen Carey: Polaroid Pulls & Shadows 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

Terms and Conditions

Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Sobieszek, Robert A. and Deborah Irmas 1994 the camera i: Photographic Self-Portraits (Los Angeles: LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art) p.211, Plate 118 [When the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection was donated to LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992 the museum gained a remarkable collection of self portraits of notable photographers. If you need a portrait of Ellen Carey this is a useful starting point.] 
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