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Photographs by Brad Temkin

September 9 – December 18, 2015

Exhibition Opening Reception:
Wednesday, September 9, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Artist Lecture, Book Signing, and Reception: Friday, October 2, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

BTemkin Chicago
111 South Wacker Drive (from above, looking West), Chicago, IL, July
2013 by Brad Temkin.

“When you look at any civilization, the first thing you look at is the place they lived. Their living space, their systems… I’m interested in telling a little bit more about where we come from.” – Brad Temkin


Brad Temkin is an award winning Chicago-based photographer who has been documenting human and environmental relationships throughout his career in photography. This exhibition delves into four bodies of work from the past 25 years that look at this relationship: revealing man’s imprint on the natural landscape alongside human efforts to incorporate natural elements back into urban environments, in their gardens and atop skyscrapers, revealing contrasting states of man-made and natural beauty while simultaneously presenting a framework for positive change. While each series touches on recurring themes about our relationship with nature, they are all distinct bodies of work, in both purpose and presentation.

Brad’s journey begins within the city limits of Chicago, where his series Private Places, offers a glimpse into the lives of unidentified city-dwellers by depicting ways that they cultivate and curate their personal garden spaces. He then ventures into barren landscapes that set the scene for Relics-- a spirited exploration of man-made structures, isolated and framed against an infinite, sprawling landscape. Through these images, Temkin gives new life to objects left to the elements, envisioning these subjects outside of their original purpose, transforming them into artifacts, monuments, and works of art in their own right.

He then shifts his focus once again as we move into Topographic Tales. As its name suggests, this series places more emphasis on the land than the man-made objects that took center-stage in Relics and is both playful and subtly suggestive of man’s enduring presence, or imprint, on the environment.


BTemkin Relics X
Relics X, 2007 by Brad Temkin
“Each item was clearly built for a specific purpose, but Temkin leaves it up to us to decipher that intended use. Their age and isolation, and the lack of current activity around them transform them into strange, marvelous sculptures. Having lost their context, they become “relics” of some undefined, lost age.” – John Rohrbach, from the essay: Seeing Green in Rooftop: Photography by Brad Temkin.

And then there is Temkin’s most recent body of work from the series: Rooftop, in which he returns to the city, but this time to capture it from above, revealing networks of rooftop gardens and the green spaces that are now dotting the tops of skyscrapers in cities across the world, from his hometown of Chicago, Illinois to Basel, Switzerland. "Best described by John Rohrbach, in the essay of Temkin’s forthcoming book by the same name, 'Temkin’s artful photographs highlight the variety and beauty of these horticultural building tops, drawing attention to their contrast with their urban surroundings.'"

While Brad’s photographs may present environmental undertones, his work also speaks, on a deeper level, about humanity as a whole -- where we come from and what can be inferred from that which we leave behind-- as cultures rise and fall; as we create and destroy. His work is both a personal and cultural exploration and echoes familiar questions we may ask about our own relationship with and impact upon this world in which we live.

“Temkin’s photographs conjure a certain dystopian unease; they recall images of weeds growing through cracked asphalt, an invocation of future ruin; speaking to a day in which humans have vacated the planet and left it for nature to endure. This is merely by suggestion, however. In far greater measure the photos convey an underlying orderliness and ordinariness, a comforting imposition of will, a carefully engineered human intervention driven by an impulse to harness nature to human ends. It is important to recognize that Temkin captures, not an unnoticed feature of the built landscape, but a significant shift in architectural expression. This architecture is a new artistic medium in which nature and humanity contribute equally. It represents a departure from the traditions of the past in which buildings were conceived in opposition to nature.” – Roger Schickedantz, from the introduction to the book Rooftop: Photography by Brad Temkin.

BTemkin Mellon Institute
Mellon Institute (looking North), Pittsburgh, PA, May 2011 by Brad Temkin


As we are drawn to making a more comfortable living space, our own ignorance often leads to issues of self-impairment. When these issues are revealed, we come together as a group, and our grace and ingenuity soar. Positive and profound change comes when groups of people work together to implement their common vision.
I am interested in how this experience is transformed through the camera, and my mission is to communicate these ideas. My pictures draw poetic attention to the beauty that already exists in the world, and more specifically, the landscape – be it natural or urban – and how what we leave behind changes its meaning.
– Brad Temkin


Brad Temkin (American, b.1956) is perhaps best known for his photographs of contemporary landscape. His work is held in numerous permanent collections, including those of The Art Institute of Chicago; Milwaukee Art Museum; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Akron Art Museum, Ohio; and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, among others. His images have appeared in such publications as Aperture, Black & White Magazine, TIME Magazine and European Photography. A monograph of Mr. Temkin’s work entitled Private Places: Photographs of Chicago Gardens was published in 2005 by Center for American Places. He has been an adjunct professor at Columbia College in Chicago since 1984, and a lecturer and visiting artist at numerous institutions in the United States and abroad. Temkin’s second book entitled ROOFTOP published by Radius Books ( was released in October 2015.

Click here for more information about the artist.

Exhibition prints made possible through support from Innova Art Ltd.

BTemkin Topographic BTemkin Green Chairs Chicago
Nº 16, from the series, Topographic Tales
by Brad Temkin
Green Chairs, Pilsen, Chicago, IL, 2002
by Brad Temkin

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