Sheila Metzner portrait, photo credits Herb Ritts

Sheila Metzner

United States 1939


Sheila Metzner
Sheila Metzner
United States
June 19, 2015
Bojan is an author for Widewalls. He is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Belgrade, majoring in English studies. He is particularly interested in English linguistics and culture. Bojan is also interested in Photography and Digital Art.

Sheila Metzner is a famous American photographer, known for her works in portraiture, fashion, still life and landscape photography.

Education and First Employment

Sheila Metzner was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1939 to a Jewish family. She went to the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan, which is now known as the High School of Art and Design, where she won a scholarship for any college she wanted. She chose Pratt Institute, where she earned a degree in Visual Communication in 1961. Having graduated, she was taken on by the Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising agency five years later, and became the first female art director of the company. In 1968, she met her future husband, painter and creative director Jeffrey Metzner.

Evyan, Metzner’s Ticket to Success

Raising their five children, and the two from Jeffrey’s previous marriage, was never a problem for her; she said they had never interfered with her career. Whenever they would go to sleep in the evening, she would get ready for her work. She was taking photographs and accumulating them over the period of 13 years. A black and white picture titled Evyan, Kinderhook Creek was an absolute hit of the exhibition Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960, which was included in it by John Szarkowski. The photograph was a springboard of Metzner’s career, launching her as a new talented photographer to watch. That same year, the New York Daniel Wolf Gallery housed Sheila’s first solo exhibition which proved to be an enormous success.

Sheila Metzner - Evyan, Kinderhook Creek, 1975 - Photo Credits by Sheila Metzner
Sheila Metzner – Evyan, Kinderhook Creek, 1975

Breakthrough into Fashion Photography

Two years later, in 1980, Daniel Wolf Gallery hosted another Metzner’s show; this time, her photographs in color were exhibited. She used a four-color method which was developed by French family the Fressons in 1895. Metzner became one of only ten American artists the family was willing to work with. Their prints perfectly complemented her style – soft, sensuous and grainy – making the photographs appear like paintings. The show landed her many jobs in prominent fashion magazines, such as Vanity Fair and Vogue with whom she sign an exclusive eight-year contract. A portrait of actress Jeanne Moreau she did for Vanity Fair turned out to be a key work in her career, which gave her the opportunity to present her work to a broader audience, not just to the world of art.

Sheila Metzner - Jeanne Moreau, Photo Credits Sheila Metzner
Sheila Metzner – Jeanne Moreau

Commercial Success

Metzner had taken on commercial photography, too. The extensive body of work includes photographs taken for clients like Valentino, Saks Fifth Avenue, Perry Ellis, Paloma Picasso, Levi’s, Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren, and many others. She also did John Mellencamp’s CDs. Around this time, she started traveling a lot, in pursuit of breathtaking landscapes for her art.

Sheila Metzner - Uma Thurman in Patou, 1985
Sheila Metzner – Uma Thurman in Patou, 1985

Sheila Metzner was very interested in the work of David Lynch and she once had expressed her wish to work with him. She worked on some of his movies like Wild at Heart, Jennifer 8, Black Rain and Bugsy. She worked with other people from the film industry as well, such as John Huston, Warren Beatty, Isabella Rosselini, Uma Thurman, and Jessica Lange, to name a few.


Metzner also published four monographs: Sheila Metzner’s Color, Objects of Desire (which brought her Ansel Adams Award for Book Photography), Inherit the Earth, a collection that includes her breathtaking photographs of landscapes that she had taken during her travels, and Form and Fashion, her most recent monograph which comprises 20-year-worth of productive work in the world of art and fashion.

Sheila Metzner - White Dessert, Farafra Oasis; Inherit the Earth, 1996 - Photo Credits Sheila Metzner
Sheila Metzner – White Dessert, Farafra Oasis; Inherit the Earth, 1996

Many museums and collectors are proud owners of her works: The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Huston, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others.

Sheila Metzner lives in New York.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Körperlandschaft (with Roland Hagenberg)Ponyhof Artclub, MunichDuo
2010Sheila MetznerConde Nast Building, New YorkSolo
2009Sheila MetznerGalerija Fotogrfija, SloveniaSolo
2008Sheila MetznerSchool of Visual Arts Museum, New YorkSolo
2006Sheila MetznerJohn Stevenson Gallery, New YorkSolo
2002Sheila MetznerMarion Center for Photographic Arts, Santa FeSolo
2001Sheila MetznerActe II Gallery, ParisSolo
2001Sheila MetznerJohn Stevenson Gallery, New YorkSolo
2001Sheila MetznerBarry Singer Gallery, Petaluma, CaliforniaSolo
2000Sheila MetznerTibet House, New YorkSolo
2000Sheila MetznerPaul Kopeikin Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2000Sheila MetznerStephen Cohen Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2000Sheila MetznerCarla Sozzani, Milan Solo
2000Sheila MetznerJohn Stevenson Gallery, New YorkSolo
2000Sheila MetznerJane Corkin Gallery, TorontoSolo
2000Sheila MetznerFahey/Klein Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
1999Sheila MetznerMartin Weinstein Gallery, MinneapolisSolo
1997Fashion PhotographyInternational Center of PhotographyGroup
1996Les Trios Grandes EgyptiennesMusee De La Photographie, Charleroi, FranceGroup
1995A Special Way of SeeingFashion Institue of TechnologyGroup
1994Sheila MetznerJackson Fine Art Gallery, AtlantaSolo
1993-1994American Made: The New Still LifeIsetan Museum, TokyoGroup
1993Sheila MetznerJames Danziger Gallery, New YorkSolo
1993Sheila MetznerHouk Gallery, ChicagoSolo
1992-1993Flora PhotographicaSouth Bank Centre, Hayward GalleryGroup
1992Sheila MetznerJames Danziger Gallery, New YorkSolo
1992Sheila MetznerJane Corkin Gallery, TorontoSolo
1992Sheila MetznerDaimaru Gallery, TokyoSolo
1992Photographs From 100 Years of VogueNew York Public LibraryGroup
1992Art in Embasses ProgramPrague, CzechoslovakiaGroup
1991Sheila MetznerInternational Center of Photography, New YorkSolo
1991Sheila MetznerFahey/Klein Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
1991Sheila MetznerHouk Gallery, ChicagoSolo
1990Sheila MetznerJames Danziger Gallery, New YorkSolo
1990Sheila MetznerRochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New YorkSolo
1990Photographers’ MusesJames Danziger, New YorkGroup
1990The Indomitable Spirit, Photographers and Friends United Against AIDSInternational Center of Photography, Midtown, New YorkGroup
1989Sheila MetznerJane Corkin, TorontoSolo
1989Images of IllusionThe Forum, St. Louis, MissouriGroup
1989The Modernist Still LifePhotographed University of Missouri, St. Louis, MissouriGroup
1988Sheila MetznerP.P.S. Gallery, HamburgSolo
1988Legacy of LightInternational Center of Photography, New YorkGroup
1987Sheila MetznerIdee Gallery, Tokyo Solo
1987Sheila MetznerRobert Koch Gallery, San FranciscoSolo
1987Sheila MetznerRobert Klein Gallery, BostonSolo
1987Botanica, Photographies de Vegetaux aux XIX et XX SieclesCentre National de la Photographie, ParisGroup
1987Group ExhibitionCanon Gallery, ParisGroup
1986Sheila MetznerDaniel Wolf, Inc., New YorkSolo
1986Public Exposures, Private VisionThe Photographic Resource Center, BostonGroup
1986Public/PrivateMuseum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, ChicagoGroup
1986Midtown ReviewInternational Center of Photography, Midtown, New YorkGroup
1986MasterpiecesJane Corkin, TorontoGroup
1985Fresson Photographs: A Unity of VisionsNew YorkGroup
1985SwimmersPace/Macgill, New YorkGroup
1985Flowers: An Exhibition of PhotographsMonique Knowlton Gallery, Buffalo, New YorkGroup
1984Sheila MetznerDaniel Wolf, Inc., New YorkSolo
1983Sheila MetznerClarence Kennedy Gallery, Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, MassachusettsSolo
1983Contemporary PhotographyAlbright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New YorkGroup
1983New York by Eight PhotographersDaniel Wolf, INC., New YorkGroup
198320th Century Photographs From the Museum of Modern ArtSeibu Museum of Art, TokyoGroup
1982Color as FormGeorge Eastman House, Rochester, New YorkGroup
1982Counterparts: Color and Emotion in PhotographsMetropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkGroup
1981Sheila MetznerNikon Foto Galerie, ZurichSolo
1981Contemporary Color PhotographyThe Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VirginiaGroup
1980Sheila MetznerDaniel Wolf, Inc., New YorkSolo
1980PictorialismDaniel Wolf, INC., New YorkGroup
1979Sheila MetznerStills:The Scottish Photography Group, EdinburgSolo
1978Sheila MetznerDaniel Wolf, Inc., New YorkSolo
1978Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960Museum of Modern Art, New YorkGroup