Neil Selkirk


Neil Selkirk Biography


British artist Neil Selkirk won a British Arts Council award to photograph New York in 1968. Arriving with a Leica and a European apprentice’s craft skills, he embraced everything the city threw at him.  During the three weeks of his scheduled trip, Lyndon Johnson withdrew from the presidency, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, Newark exploded in riot and flames, Bobby Kennedy announced his presidential bid, and Selkirk decided to stay.

Certain Women delves into the realm of motherhood, exploring the secrets hidden in faces of the subjects’ common experience. The images were taken from Vermont to the Carolinas, and New York to Montana, between 1991 and 2009. In the course of his daily routine as a parent dropping his children off at school in Lower Manhattan, Selkirk was continually struck by the stature and bearing of his female contemporaries, the mothers of his generation who – in juggling jobs, family, and the illusion of personal fulfillment – were now suddenly, for the first time, expected to be able to have it all. The project grew into a series of extended road trips, eventually spanning nearly 20 years and much of the country. While the women were selected at random, the only requirement was that the each of the women had a child between the ages of 10 and 20. Selkirk felt that after 10 years of motherhood, the experience had left its mark and the wisdom gained from being a parent was fully ingrained. Selkirk used a huge wood and leather view camera, developed the 11x14 inch film in his darkroom, scanned the negatives, and printed the film digitally using a large number of grey inks. The large prints were then embedded in thick slabs of glass, and appear to float off the wall in a state of permanent suspension.

Selkirk’s work has been printed in major magazines including Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Interview, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and the premier issues of Wired, Paper, Colors, and Spy. In 2005 Selkirk directed the documentary film: Who is Marvin Israel?, which premiered at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Selkirk has published three books of photographs: 1000 on 42nd Street, 2000, See No Evil, 2006, and Lobbyists, 2007. His photographs are in major U.S. museum collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Selkirk is the only person ever authorized to make posthumous prints of the work of Diane Arbus.