Michael James O'Brien is a renowned American photographer and poet having produced a diverse body of photographic work from still lifes and portraits to commercial work and art documentation. He received his MFA from Yale University where he studied in the 1970s with Walker Evans. Later he became an associate professor of photography at Kenyon College in Ohio and taught at the New School in New York City in the mid-1980s. He is currently the Chairman of the Photography Department at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
In 1993 he began a collaboration with the artist Matthew Barney creating a photographic parallel to Barney’s Drawing Restraint 7 and Cremaster 1, 2, 4, 5. These works have been exhibited at the Musee Moderne in Paris in 2002 and at the Guggenheim in New York in 2003. His portrait of the artist duo Gilbert and George is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. O’Brien’s work has been commissioned by periodicals such as The New Yorker, Departures, Rolling Stone, Financial Times, Elle Décor, The New York Times, L’Uomo Vogue, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and by advertising clients including Bergdorf Goodman, Thierry Mugler, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
An accomplished and published poet, O’Brien has been editor-at-large of the poetry periodical Verbal Abuse since its inception in 1993. His book of photographs, “Girlfriend: Men, Women & Drag” was published by Random House in 1999. He was Creative Director of Designers against AIDS in 2010, co-editing the book “Designers against Aids: The First Decade,” published by Ludion. Today he continues to exhibit around the world including in the United States, Belgium, and China and creating a diverse body of work.