Michael Eastman’s evocative photographs capture architectural interiors and facades throughout the world’s fabled epicenters of culture; Havana, Milan, Buenos Aires, Lisbon. As profiles of various structures, the pictures also showcase the ravages of time amidst their grandeur, presenting profiles loyal to all of the organic imperfections caused by the passage of time and use. Michael Eastman’s photography emphasizes, through painterly technique, a sense of quiet admiration, and unapologetic sincerity, the human stages for political, social, and cultural interaction and the untold stories still echoing within their walls.
Michael Eastman is a self-taught photographer that has been documenting the architecture of cities for the past five decades. The artist produces large-scale photographs using a 4 x 5-inch format camera, a wide-angle lens, and through long exposures with available light. His pictures have gained renown for their precision, monumentality, and painterly use of color.
In a historical sense, Michael Eastman’s work arises from a history of photographers renowned for their preservation of culture. Many of the buildings pictured will cease to exist; whether crumbling Beaux Arts or Colonial structures or ones that have become subsequently removed or renovated, Eastman’s work in Lisbon, Buenos Aires, and especially Havana, present an intimate yet distant portrait of a place and its history. Eastman’s contemporary photographs are in the tradition of Atget’s preservation of Paris, Walker-Evans documentation of the American South, and Berenice Abbott’s “Changing Times of New York” project. The images activate an explorative quest that the viewer can enter to understand the history of the human experience of the past.
“These empty rooms are really portraits of the people that inhabited them. It’s for us as the viewer to figure out from the arrangement of the furniture, the things on the walls, the kinds of things that they’ve chosen to surround themselves with, the condition of the house, to kind of build our own portrait of who that is.” – Michael Eastman
Michael Eastman’s grand photographs appeal to a myriad of collectors for many reasons. Most importantly, they resonate with the uniqueness that our collective lives have made on transforming both the places we live and interact in as well as the furniture and personal effects that are products of our civilization. The photographs, steeped in nostalgia and a time gone by, are remnants and evidence of the continuity of our collective lives.