Today we wanted to showcase the work of one of our favorite photographers, Mary Ellen Bartley. We love using her work for our interior projects whenever we get the chance. One of Bartley’s recent focuses is photographing books; their insides, outsides, spines. By opening them up and photographing their interior pages standing up, playing with light and shadow, she creates some of the most beautiful images. The artist describes the series “Standing Open” in her own words: “While shooting my stacks and rows of tightly closed paperback books I started seeing some of the standing books loosen up and show bits of the space between their pages. I was drawn into the uniquely beautiful interior space of the books. I began opening all kinds of books and placing them standing open around my space where sunlight might fall on them. This quickly became a project of looking into my photography books in a new way, falling into and out of the books, into and out of abstraction.”There’s something very romantic and intimate about the pages of this book, below.
We purchased the print below for Eva Chen’s Lucky magazine office (you check it out by clicking here). This is a piece from Bartley’s “Artists and Model’s” series called “Neck.” If you look closely, you can see the outline of a woman’s neck and back peeking out from one of the pages. On the art ledge in Eva’s office this piece looks like an abstract photo from afar. It’s not until you get up close that you realize it’s actually two books pushed together and that the graphic black and white lines are the pages of the books.
The next few images are from her series called “Paperbacks” where Bartley plays with stacks of books.
Bartley’s series “Blue Books” speaks to me the most of all of her work. She has mentioned that the compositions were very much inspired by Rothko in terms of the color blocking and that the book cloth reads almost like canvas stained with paint. I love how she uses the camera’s focus to blur the edges of the books so that from afar you might think you’re looking at a painting.