Originally a surgical specialist, Barry Altman retired in 1996 and decided to pursue an artistic endeavor. Barry Altman attended the New School in New York and Parsons School of Design in Manhattan before and after his retirement, focusing on painting, drawing, silk-screen, collage, mixed-media, photography, and sculpture. He also studied painting at William Paterson University, since then much of his work has been experimental or self taught combined with some of the techniques from the courses he attended. Altman is particularly interested in combining collage, mixed media, assemblage, and painting. In his work he also incorporates three dimensional pieces or heavily textured canvases, some of which can be considered small dioramas enclosed in plexiboxes.
Due to his experience as a surgeon, the way in which he executes his work often involves tactile surfaces and three dimensionality. He is particularly interested in the effects that collaging and embedded objects in the work have on shadows and color. He also integrates unusual elements such as dried vegetation, wire screening, excelsior, cardboard, wild mushrooms, and pasta all of which have been preserved in varnish or resin. Altman’s source of inspiration stems from classical music, life experiences, and travelling. While some of his work exhibits strong emotional content that can be interpreted as being direct or indirect Altman also creates work that is more abstract.