Penelope Umbrico in conversation with Francis Hodgson

Penelope Umbrico, ‘Broken Sets (eBay)’, 2009-onging. Courtesy the artist and Bruce Silverstein Gallery

Penelope Umbrico is a photographer best known for appropriating images found using search engines and picture sharing websites. Her work has been exhibited and published extensively internationally. She is interviewed by renowned academic and critic, Francis Hodgson.


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Penelope Umbrico offers a radical reinterpretation of everyday consumer and vernacular images. Umbrico works “within the virtual world of consumer marketing and social media, travelling through the relentless flow of seductive images, objects, and information that surrounds us, searching for decisive moments—but in these worlds, decisive moments are cultural absurdities.” She finds these moments in the pages of consumer product mail-order catalogues, travel and leisure brochures; and websites like Craigslist, eBay, and Flickr. Identifying image typologies—candy-coloured horizons and sunsets, books used as props—brings the farcical, surreal nature of consumerism to new light. Penelope Umbrico (born in Philadelphia, 1957) graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. She has participated extensively in solo and group exhibitions, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. Umbrico is core faculty in the School of Visual Arts MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media Program. Selected public collections include the Guggenheim Museum (NY), International Center of Photography (NY), McNay Museum of Art (TX), Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), Museum of Contemporary Photography (IL), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (CA), Museum of Modern Art (NY), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), among others. She lives in New York City.