In a career that spans five decades, Michael Eastman (b. 1947) is a self-taught artist recognised for capturing the interiors and facades of cities as diverse as Havana, Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires and New Orleans, and producing large-scale photographs unified by their visual precision, monumentality, and painterly use of color. Eastman is most recognized for his explorations of architectural form and the textures of decay, which create mysterious narratives about time and place.
Still dedicated on capturing his images on film using, a 4x5 camera, Eastman sometimes prints the smaller scale works by hand himself, drawing inspiration from photographers the likes of Eugene Atget and Walker Evans. Like these great documentary photographers before him, Eastman holds the authenticity of the image as his highest goal. He shuns the use of artificial light and uses long exposure times instead, patiently waiting as long as it takes for the natural illumination of the room to expose his film properly.
Throughout his career, Eastman has often been referred to as a contemporary urban alchemist, magically transforming everyday objects and surfaces into textured planes of beauty. In his series Havana, we see decadent, magnificent interiors that have been ravaged by time and neglect. The rooms - populated with lonely, worn out chairs and dusty picture frames - speak of anonymous, past lives. These works stand in contrast to Eastman's group of photographs taken across Italy: those places are often immaculate, luxurious. We get no real sense of the people who have passed through those rooms, only that there must have been many of them.
Eastman's photographs have been published in major magazines including Time, Life, and American Photographer. His work is held in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography in New York; The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in L.A., among other prestigious institutions.