Melanie Pullen

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Melanie Pullen
Born Melanie Pullen
(1975-09-10)September 10, 1975
New York, New York
Nationality American
Education Self-educated
Known for Photographer and artist
Notable work High Fashion Crime Scenes, 1995–2005; Violent Times, 2005–2009

Melanie Pullen (born in New York City, September 10, 1975) is a photographer who currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California[1]

Pullen's work has been exhibited internationally, including solo-shows at Ace Gallery, Los Angeles and Ace Gallery, Beverly Hills; White Wall Gallery, Seoul; MiCamera, Milan. Her work has also been included in various museum exhibitions and has been broadly published [1]

Photographic art[edit]

Pullen is most noted for High Fashion Crime Scenes which consists of over one-hundred photographs based on NYPD and LAPD crime scene files.

To create High Fashion Crime Scenes (1995–2005), Pullen employed the services of up to 80 crew members and models per picture, with each image taking up to a month to create, and the series using over $13 million worth of clothing and accessories.[2]

Her photo shoots often resemble movie sets. High Fashion Crime Scenes in particular was directly inspired by cinema and photojournalism.[3]

During her research into crime-scene photography, Pullen became haunted by war imagery. Pullen states,

"As I grew desensitized to domestic crime and violence, I became more sensitized to images of war. It was a strange phenomenon that I've explored and philosophized. I don’t like violence, I have never been a dark person. I see stories and different layers to violent imagery. I'm curious about the response people have to violent images.” [4]

This became Pullen's inspiration for Violent Times her more recent body of work and most elaborate series to date.

Early photography[edit]

Although there is strong theoretical connotation to her work, alongside masterful lighting and color theory, Pullen has never gone to school for photography, or taken a single lesson. She has learned her craft through trial and error, a process that has proved greatly beneficial to her work.

Despite her love of “accidents”, she is in fact a perfectionist “to the point of driving [herself] insane.” Pullen is inspired by geometry, and she loves lines and symmetry.[5]

Shortly after acquiring her first camera in her teens she began shooting for several publications, magazines, catalogs, and record labels.[6]

She worked in 2004 with Beck for his album Guero and The Information. In addition to Beck, she's shot many other musicians, such as: Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Rock Kills Kid and The Black Keys.[7][8][9]

Pullen did a small series of portraits of famed photographer Julius Shulman that have never been seen.[6]

Printing and methods[edit]

Pullen's photographs are some of the largest images in the world. Her images range in size from four-foot up to ten-foot seamless photographs. Some are face-mounted prints and others are large-format positives backlit in massive light-boxes.

She primarily works in film and shoots with a range of cameras, including: Hasselblad 503cw; Hasselblad H2; Linhof Technika; Canon EOS 3.

Pullen prints and retouches all of her own work with very little help, if any. She does her own high resolution scanning and she still employs traditional spotting techniques due to the size of her prints. She personally hand spots each print.[6]

Childhood and early inspiration[edit]

Pullen was raised in New York City's West Village. As a child her family consisted of writers, publishers, poets and painters. Her childhood home was frequented in the 1970s and '80s by the likes of Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Emily Glen and Shel Silverstein. Pullen at the age of six would sometimes perform in Washington Square Park with Philippe Petit (Man on Wire) in his neighborhood shows.[6]

Pullen has noted that one of her inspirations was grandmother Ann Guilfoyle, the photo editor at Audubon magazine and founder of The Guilfoyle Report[10] . Pullen's grandfather George Hornby started Domesday Press and worked as a freelancer or staff member with Knopf, Crown, Random House, Crowell-Collier, Rowman & Littlefield, and Farrar Straus & Young. He designed Mr. President, a biographical study of Harry S. Truman in 1951 with whom he worked.[11] Kathleen Guilfoyle, Pullen's mother, is a painter and supported her family through painting murals in Manhattan's Greenwich Village and through peddling her works on the streets of New York. Pullen's father, Wayne Pullen, has played professional pool for many years and is considered one of the most skilled one-pocket players in the US. He won first place in the USPPA Pro Am Classic in 2003 in Reno, Nevada.[12]


Pullen’s monograph High Fashion Crime Scenes (74 plates) is published by Nazraeli Press and has received international critical acclaim by magazines such as Spin,[13] Variety, Vanity Fair, Elle and Vogue Magazine.[6] Pullen’s book includes an introduction by Luke Crisell and essays by both Robert Enright and Colin Westerbech.[14]

Pullen's photographic series have also been featured in numerous publications and broadcasts including: San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times Magazine, LA Times, ArtReview, The London Independent on Sunday Review, Vogue, Elle, Fortune, W, GQ, RollingStone, Nylon, Photo, Art Forum, National Public Radio, CBS Radio and CBS News.[15]

Photography books[edit]

High Fashion Crime Scenes. Nazraeli Press. ISBN 1-59005-136-X ISBN 978-1590051368


Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • 2003: High Fashion Crime Scenes, The Silver Lake Society of Authentic Arts, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2004: High Fashion Crime Scenes, Presented by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s 10th Annual Muse Art Walk, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2005: High Fashion Crime Scenes, Ace Gallery Beverly Hills
  • 2006: High Fashion Crime Scenes, White Wall Gallery, Seoul, Korea
  • 2006: High Fashion Crime Scenes, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2007: High Fashion Crime Scenes, Micamera, Milan, Italy
  • 2008: Violent Times, Ace Gallery Los Angeles
  • 2009: Violent Times, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco
  • 2010: High Fashion Crime Scenes, Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles[16]
  • 2011: Project Atrium: Melanie Pullen, The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Jacksonville FL[17]

Group Exhibitions[edit]

  • 2003: High Fashion Crime Scene Photographs, The Los Angeles Tar Festival, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2003: High Fashion Crime Scene Photographs, The Silver Lake Society Of Authentic Arts, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2004: Selected Work from Juliette Lewis Series, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Downtown Artwalk, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2005: High Fashion Crime Scenes, Ace Gallery Beverly Hills
  • 2005: Berkus’ Beauties, Atkinson Gallery Santa Barbara City College
  • 2006: Photos And Phantasy: Selections From The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, The Frederick R. Weisman Museum Of Art, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
  • 2006: City Limits, University Art Museum, California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
  • 2007: Tell Me a Story: Narrative Photography Now, The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA
  • 2008: Art And Illusion: Selections From The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Roseville Arts! Blue Line Gallery, Roseville, CA
  • 2008: Photos and Phantasy: Selections from The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA
  • 2008: Dreams of Promise And Peril, The Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse, NY


  1. ^ a b Stephen Wirtz Gallery, Artist Bio "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  2. ^ The London Independent on Sunday, 13 March 2005,
  3. ^ KPCC, Pacific Drift 2006
  4. ^ Artist Interview, 2008, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  5. ^ Artist Interview, 2008 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Melanie Pullen (Official Site), Artist Bio
  7. ^ Beck (Official Site), 2010 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-02. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  8. ^ List of Artist Album Credits, 2003-2009
  9. ^ Arthur Magazine, circa 2006 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-14. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  10. ^ Pullen discusses her inspiration in the final chapter of her book, High Fashion Crime Scenes, 2005 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  11. ^ New York Times, 1990
  12. ^ USPPA List of Tournaments, 2000 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  13. ^ Spin Magazine, Aug 2006
  14. ^ Nazraeli Publications (Official Site), 2005 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  15. ^ The Agency, Bio
  16. ^ Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010
  17. ^

External links[edit]