Buck Ellison was born in 1987 in San Francisco. He received a BA in German literature from Columbia University, New York, in 2010, and an MFA from the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, in 2014.
Borrowing from the language of stock photography, Ellison produces meticulously detailed images that examine white American wealth.
Ellison has exhibited his work at Balice Hertling, Paris (2019, 2017); Carl Kostyàl, Malmö, Sweden (2019); The Sunday Painter, London (2019); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2018); Index—The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm (2016); Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio (2016); and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (2014).
Video: Buck Ellison Interview: Images of the Middle Class by Louisiana Channel (Youtube)
On the surface, many of Ellison’s images appear to mildly reproduce the habits and tastes of comfortable, white, upper-middle-class families: organic vegetables, wellness therapies, performance sportswear, lacrosse & rowing, family Christmas card portraits. However, lurking beneath this is a deep network of enquiry into how whiteness and privilege are sustained and broadcast, whether it is what you put in your body, the bumper sticker on your car, which health problems you can afford to worry about or the quality of the air you breathe.
Ellison pays actors and models throughout his work to stand in and take on the appearance of generic characters, at times reminiscent of commercial or advertising tropes. Through webs of association stretching across various photographic styles, Living Trust is an anthropology of W.A.S.P. America – where the quest for authenticity and well-being is aestheticised, internalised and commodified.