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Jill Greenberg artist / photographer C U LT U R A L I C O N S

Whether she’s photographing celebrities, children or animals, Jill makes her subjects appear profound and even iconic. Her use of light and color exaggerates the figure while reducing it to its essence, allowing her to capture raw emotion — along with the attention of viewers who are irresistibly drawn to each image.

After graduating with honors in 1989, Jill moved to New York, intent on working as both a fine art and commercial photographer. “I used to pound the pavement and drop my book off at magazines and record companies,” she says. An early break came when TIME hired her for a photo illustration of Jeffrey Dahmer and Sassy asked her to shoot Marlon Wayans. After living for many years in Los Angeles, Jill recently returned to New York with her husband and two children. She continues to bring her inimitable style to both photo and video work for clients such as GQ, HBO, Showtime, Universal Pictures and Wired, among many others. She has shot memorable portraits of almost every celebrity imaginable: Eminem, Cameron Diaz, Venus

Over a decade ago, Jill returned in earnest to fine art photography and regularly exhibits personal work at galleries and museums worldwide. In 2006 she attracted a lot of attention with her political End Times series, a powerful collection of staged portraits of sobbing toddlers that’s finally being released in book form in 2013 by TF Editores and D.A.P. Jill’s work has led to several successful books, including Monkey Portraits, Bear Portraits and her latest, Horses (2012, Rizzoli). “With animals and children, there is an authenticity of emotion, which is amazing,” the photographer notes. But in contrast to her ape and bear portraits, the Horse photographs present “horses as if they were supermodels,” she says. “It’s about figure studies and their physiques as a means of examining reflected gender roles.” Glass Ceiling, one of Jill’s most recent series, brought her full circle — back to the postmodern feminist theory that inspired her RISD senior thesis, The Female Object. “My opinions change all the time regarding what kind of art I want to make, and then I come back to thinking the same things I thought at RISD,” she says. “I love making images that make me feel something — that I find beautiful. I do like other people to like them, but really I’m making them for myself.”

B FA 8 9  P H OTO G R A P H Y

Jill grew up in a suburb of Detroit, constantly drawing, painting and exploring sculpture, film and photography. Before coming to RISD, she’d attended summer art programs — Parsons in Paris and RISD’s own Pre-College program. As an undergrad at RISD, she developed an intellectual approach to art, noting: “I learned the language of talking about art as well as the visual language of images — how to communicate with pictures.”

Williams, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani, Jon Stewart, Martha Stewart, Ice Cube, Seth Rogen, Nicki Minaj and on and on.

Profile for Rhode Island School of Design

Working: Diverse outcomes of a RISD Education  

(Updated Fall 2015) Making a creative living means doing what you love to do. This publication explores the many ways alumni of Rhode Island...

Working: Diverse outcomes of a RISD Education  

(Updated Fall 2015) Making a creative living means doing what you love to do. This publication explores the many ways alumni of Rhode Island...

Profile for risd