A graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, Tom Baril spent over fifteen years as Robert Mapplethorpe’s master printer. His subjects include urban architecture, seascapes and meticulously detailed botanical and nature photographs. Baril’s work demonstrates a command of technique that results from his extensive experience as a master printer. Baril developed a unique toning process that enriches the color and opulence of his photographs.
Tom Baril is inspired by the nature studies of modernist photographers such as Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and Karl Blossfeldt. A similar attentiveness to the clarity of line, form, pattern and texture characterizes Baril’s still lifes. In composing the seascapes, Baril employs the traditional box camera obscura, better known as the pinhole camera. The ephemeral quality of the seascapes is achieved with the long depth of field and the soft focus of this instrument. Instead of using an optical lens, the pinhole camera is punctured by a very small hole through which an image is projected onto the 4 x 5 inch negative. An overall synthesis of tone is captured by this process, which lends a minimalist aesthetic to the composition.
Baril has enjoyed numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, and his work is in collections from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum among others. Two monographs have been published on his work, Botanica (Arena Editions, 1999); and the highly acclaimed 1997 self-titled monograph published by 4AD.