Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Emmet Gowin at Jackson Fine Art



The distinguished Southern photographer Emmet Gowin is having a retrospective show of his work at Jackson Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta, up now through July 27th, 2013.

This show reminds us that Gowin's photography is grounded in the practice of black and white fine art photography of the mid-twentieth century.

Gowin's early work (see image above) was mostly made in Virginia and honors the documentary photography of the Depression era and the casual, street-photography influenced work of Robert Frank and others at work in the 1950's.

Gowin's work has grown, however, anticipating and participating in a number of developments that are still very current.

One is the trend in landscape photography to turn from Ansel Adams' celebration of form and light without regard for the "hand of man" to a concern for documenting the presence of the human in the landscape, and especially the cost of industrial and economic development for the landscape (see image below).


His more recent work shows the pervasive influence of the Bechers, especially in their concern to document the range of variation within types or categories of similar objects (see image below), but with the addition of color as a category for noticing repetition and variation.


Born in 1941 in Danville, VA, Gowin earned his BFA in Graphic Design from the Richmond Professional Institute and his MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design. 

He studied at RISD with legendary photographer Harry Callahan, who would become one of his mentors. He later studied with Aaron Siskind and Frederick Sommer, and went on to have a 25-year career as a teacher of photograph at Princeton University.

Gowin has received many distinguished awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

There is an extended interview with Gowin, from the late 1990's, here

Gowin's work is included in many museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Maison Européene de la Photographie, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Tokyo Museum of Art.


Gowin's work is a reminder that a Southern photographer can be regional at heart, but also incorporate national and even international influences into the practice of his art.

Thanks to Jackson Fine Art for mounting this show, and reminding us of the range and quality of his work.

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