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Emmet Gowin
Emmet Gowin

Emmet Gowin

Country: United States
Birth: 1941

Emmet Gowin (born 1941) is an American photographer. He first gained attention in the 1970s with his intimate portraits of his wife, Edith, and her family. Later he turned his attention to the landscapes of the American West, taking aerial photographs of places that had been changed by humans or nature, including the Hanford Site, Mount St. Helens, and the Nevada Test Site. Gowin taught at Princeton University for more than 35 years.

Gowin was born in Danville, Virginia. His father, Emmet Sr., was a Methodist minister and his Quaker mother played the organ in church. When he was two his family moved to Chincoteague Island, where he spent much of his free time in the marshes around their home. At about age 12 his family moved back to Danville, where Gowin first showed an interest in art by taking up drawing. When he was 16 he saw an Ansel Adams photograph of a burnt tree with a young bud growing from the stump. This inspired him to go into the woods near his home and draw from nature. Later, he applied what he learned from his early years wandering in the woods and marshes to his photography. A student of his said "Photography, with Emmet, became the study of everything."

After graduating from high school he attended the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University). During his first year in college he saw a catalog of the Family of Man exhibit and was particularly inspired by the works of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson. About this same time he met his future wife, Edith Morris, who had grown up about a mile away from Gowin in Danville. They married in 1964, and she quickly became both his muse and his model. Later they had two sons, Elijah Gowin (also a photographer in his own right) and Isaac.

Some of his earliest photographic vision was inspired by Edith's large and engaging family, who allowed him to record what he called "a family freshly different from my own." He said "I wanted to pay attention to the body and personality that had agreed out of love to reveal itself." In 1965, Gowin attended the Rhode Island School of Design. While earning his MFA, Gowin studied under influential American photographers Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Three years later he was given his first solo exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute. In 1970 his work was shown at the George Eastman House and a year later at the Museum of Modern Art. About this same time he was introduced to the photographer Frederick Sommer, who became his lifelong mentor and friend.

Emmet Gowin was invited by Peter Bunnell in 1973 to teach photography at Princeton University. Over the next 25 years, he both taught new students and, by his own admission, continually learned from those he taught. At the end of each academic year he asked his students to contribute one photograph to a portfolio that was open to critique by all of the students; he intentionally included one of his own photographs as a reminder that, while a teacher, "he was just another humble student of art."

Gowin received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974, which allowed him to travel throughout Europe. He was also awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1979 and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 1994.

In 1980 Gowin received a scholarship from the Seattle Arts Commission which provided funding for him to travel in Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Beginning with a trip to Mount St. Helens soon after it erupted, Gowin began taking aerial photographs. For the next twenty years, Gowin captured strip mining sites, nuclear testing fields, large-scale agricultural fields and other scars in the natural landscape. In 1982 the Gowins were invited by Queen Noor of Jordan, who had studied with Gowin at Princeton, to photograph historic places in her country. He traveled there over the next three years and took a series of photographs of the archaeological site at Petra. The prints he made of these images were the first time he introduced photographic print toning in his work.

Gowin retired from teaching at Princeton University at the end of 2009 and lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Edith.

Gowin has acknowledged that the photographs of Eugene Atget, Bill Brandt, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Alfred Stieglitz, and especially Harry Callahan and Frederick Sommer have influenced him.

Most of his early family pictures were taken with a 4 X 5 camera on a tripod, a situation in which he said "both the sitter and photographer look at each other, and what they both see and feel is part of the picture." These photos feel both posed and highly intimate at the same time, often capturing seemingly long and direct stares from his wife or her family members or appearing to intrude on a personal family moment. Gowin once said that "the coincidence of the many things that fit together to make a picture is singular. They occur only once. They never occur for you in quite the same way that they occur for someone else, so that in the tiny differences between them you can reemploy a model or strategy that someone else has used and still reproduce an original picture. Those things that do have a distinct life of their own strike me as being things coming to you out of life itself."

In an essay for the catalog for an exhibition of his work at Yale University, writer Terry Tempest Williams said "Emmet Gowin has captured on film the state of our creation and, conversely, the beauty of our losses. And it is full of revelations."

Source: Wikipedia


Following his marriage to Edith Morris in 1964, Gowin began taking portraits of his wife and extended family in Virginia. Capturing the ordinary yet intimate moments of everyday life, these photographs often resemble personal snapshots: his niece Nancy in the grass with dolls; Edith in their living room on Christmas morning; Edith and her two sisters in the backyard. Apart from their domestic setting and familial subjects, however, Gowin's pictures transcend documentation. Gowin's sensitivity to the nuances of daily events coupled with formally elegant compositions imbue his photographs with particular gravity. Honest, tender, spontaneous, and humorous in tone, they are personal yet universal reflections on the close bond shared between relatives. Some of Gowin's photographs feature images within a circular frame, a visual device discovered by chance in 1967. Allowing the camera lens to dictate the shape of the image, Gowin invites viewers to take a privileged glimpse, as if through a peephole, into his private world.

An influential figure in the history of photography, Emmet Gowin (b. 1941, Danville, VA) received an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967. While at RISD, he studied with photographer Harry Callahan, who, along with Frederick Sommer, became one of his mentors and greatest influences. Since 1973 Gowin has been on the faculty at Princeton University, where he is currently a professor of photography in the Visual Arts Program. Gowin is the recipient of numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1974), two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1977, 1979), a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (1993), the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University (1997), and the Princeton Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities (2006).

For nearly four decades, Gowin's work has been widely exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, with solo shows and retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1971); the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1983); the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1990-93); the Espace Photographie Mairie de Paris (1992); the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (2002); the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City (2003); the El Paso Museum of Art (2004); and the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge (2004). His photographs can be found in museum collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Tokyo Museum of Art.

Source: Pace/MacGill Gallery


 

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He turned his interest towards Italy from 1950 to 1961, photographing everything from street scenes to contemplative photo-essays, from architectural views to portraits of international artists living in Italy. In 1953, he discovered the 35mm camera and the telephoto lens. His work became more spontaneous and was influenced by his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Italian Neo-Realism film movement. Over the next few years, he completed several books, including Rom, Caribia, Nigeria and Napoli, this one in collaboration with Vittorio de Sica. List more or less gave up photography in the early 1960s. Despite his earlier fame throughout Europe, his particular style was no longer fashionable. By the time he died in Munich in 1975, his work had been almost forgotten. 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After the war, he photographed the ruins of Munich, and he became art editor of Heute magazine. In 1951 List met Robert Capa, who invited him to join Magnum Photos. For the next decade he worked heavily in Italy. During this time he also started using a 35 mm film camera and a telephoto lens. He was influenced by his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson as well as the Italian neorealism film movement. In the 1950s he also shot portraits of Marino Marini, Paul Bowles, W. H. Auden, and Marlene Dietrich in 1960. List gave up photography in the early 1960s. He died in Munich on April 4, 1975.Source: www.magnumphotos.com
Sean Perry
United States
1968
Sean Perry is a fine-art photographer living and working in New York City and Austin, Texas. His photographs and books center on architecture, space and light - expressing the ambiance felt within built environments. He is currently completing three series/books on New York City entitled Monolith, Gotham and Fotopolis, as well as exhibiting a recently completed body of work on the dreamscape of temporary environments, Fairgrounds. Perry attended Berklee College of Music and was a working musician before turning to photography in 1996. His photographs and books have been acquired by notable private collectors including Manfred Heiting and Alan Siegel in addition to being held in the permanent collections of the Museum Fine Arts Houston, the Amon Carter Museum, Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, and the Harry Ransom Center. Cloverleaf Press published Perry's first limited edition book, Transitory in 2006, and followed with a second title, Fairgrounds in the Fall of 2008. In 2009 he was selected as a finalist for the Hasselblad Masters award for his work and book Fairgrounds. His photographs have been published widely including the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Graphis, Camera Arts, New York Magazine, Billboard and American Photography. He has served as an adjunct Professor of Photography in Austin since 2001 as well as an adjunct Professor for the School of Visual Arts in New York City since 2006. Perry frequently contributes his photographs to auctions that benefit photographic and social concerns. His work is represented by the Stephen L. Clark Gallery, Austin. Interview with Sean Perry All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer? Sean Perry: When I was younger I didn't know or have access to any professional photographers, but I really loved movies and looked at a lot of books. At that time I got into music and everything else was just secondary. As a musician I always thought about pictures and the visual atmosphere great songs provoke and in my thirties I started photographing and haven’t stopped. AAP: Where did you study photography? With whom? SP: I don’t have a formal background studying photography but it’s not quite right to say I'm self taught either. One of my old bandmates, Jeff Miller is a brother to me, a great photographer and my first teacher - I learned about cameras, making good pictures and printing in the darkroom. That experience was also my first big introduction to contemporary artists like Joel-Peter Witkin and The Starns. I later had important mentors in a photographer I assisted for, Frank Curry and a sculptor who has had a tremendous influence on me as an artist and photographer, John Christensen. AAP:Do you have a mentor? SP: I have a few friends and colleagues who I admire and trust that I ask for insight and guidance with various things... Elizabeth Avedon, Jace Graf, Stephen Clark - there are others. I ask different people, different questions for different reasons if that makes sense. I think it's important to deeply consider who you ask and why. I've been a client of Mary Virginia Swanson for many years and her savvy is always invaluable, I truly owe her a great deal. I'm always learning and seeking out the chance to improve and grow. AAP: How long have you been a photographer? SP: I have been making pictures consistently since 1996 and started working professionally in 1998. AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it? SP: What I remember most are the pictures that when I saw the film, they made me feel that the image was somehow better, or more than my capability at the time. It would lead to months of chasing and trying to catch up to the image. The first time that happened was of a barren tree in the wintertime, backlit. I remember making the other pictures from that time, but the experience of seeing something unexpected back on the contact sheets always sticks with me as meaningful. AAP: What or who inspires you? SP: Music always. Also the discovery and study of people that give themselves to their pursuits with the discipline and heart to be excellent. New York City. Late fall leading to snow and cold weather makes me happy. AAP: How could you describe your style? SP: A little romantic but not sentimental - sci-fi but not overtly conceptual. I always work to make beautiful images and objects that don’t apologize for their consideration of aesthetic and design. My experience has taught me there is a strange, small line between beautiful and pretty, arbitrary and yet often substantial. I think my favorite word or aim for my work is earnest, and hopefully elegant. I try to be consistent and to quote someone I deeply respect, Paul Rand – "Don’t try to be original, just try to be good." AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film? SP: I’m fluent in digital tools and use them to manage images online etcetera, but I have used the same camera gear for over twelve years. Hasselblad 501CM with a 120mm lens and 25A Red filter. Tri-X film in A12 backs. Processed in D76, 1 to 1. Silver gelatin prints bleached and then toned in combinations of sepia and selenium or platinum–palladium prints from enlarged negatives. AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? SP: I tend to run film and then not look at it for a while.... I then go through the contact sheets and make work prints of the things that seem to have promise. As the series and work evolves the process of editing, sequencing and design kicks in. After the edges of a project are more or less in place, I’ll go back again and see what I may have missed on the contact sheets. AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)? SP: If I am only allowed one, Irving Penn – hands down, no one else. I love books and too many favorites to list, but in no particular order others would be Saul Leiter, Ted Croner, Robert & Shana Parke-Harrison, Tom Baril, Louis Faurer, Edward Burtynsky, Albert Watson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Berenice Abbott and Matt Mahurin. AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer? SP: Fearlessly make all the bad pictures you need to in order to get to the good ones. Not thoughtlessly in the number of images, but without hesitation in the intent to chase your ideas. When you are disappointed, try to understand why specifically – was it a technical mistake your effort and experience will resolve over time or was it about vision in what you could or could not see at that moment. The technical things are usually easier to improve upon, I have found the other takes additional perseverance and courage. For myself there is always the confrontation of closing the distance between the potency I’m after and the many challenges at hand while guiding it there. I think the biggest secret is simply not to quit. AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid? SP: Everyone is different, so very hard to say. I believe one truth for myself has been it’s more valuable to invest time in what your pictures, your life, your point of view are all about and less energy worrying about the urgency sometimes encouraged in technology and shorter term concerns. Play long ball. AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share? SP: I am currently administrating an ambitious project that connects college students with high school students, creating mentorship and the development of visual language. For the college students it is to illustrate the value of mentorship from both sides, as well as create meaningful dialogue about photography and image making. It provides a mechanism for high school students to share and express their photographic work with a new audience and has direct, tangible advantages for everyone involved – accenting the importance of communication and emphasizing the photography community's tradition of portfolio review. Visit The Picture Review. AAP: Your best memory has a photographer? SP: All of my favorite memories are darkroom related. My first darkroom was in John Christensen's studio, I deeply miss those days and that place. I would often print all day and all night - it's where I learned about photo-chemistry and the subtleties of split-toning and other irresistible alchemy. AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer? SP: My checking account. AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be? SP: It's an interesting question but it reminds me of a rock & roll story, urban legend I remember as a kid and recently retold in Esquire Magazine. When Van Halen was touring in the late 70’s they were opening for Ted Nugent who admired Eddie Van Halen's guitar tone. Among other things, Eddie would hide one of his effect pedals (a tape echo) in an old bomb casing, adding to the mystery of his great tone and why he sounded the way he did. Everyone believed he had a "magic" black box. During sound check, Ted Nugent got the chance to play through Eddie’s rig and was disappointed to discover his guitar tone was unchanged – he sounded like he always did and whatever he loved about Eddie's tone was in his hands and not in the gear. I think photographs are like that, there are many pictures I would be thrilled if I had produced but in the end I can only make what is in my hands and heart. The images I love that others have made don't represent my life and could never belong to me. I remain a fan and audience to my heroes, happily so.
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