Kenneth Josephson is an American photographer, born on July 1, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan. He completed his elementary education in Detroit. In 1953 after being sent in Germany by the United States Army he was trained in photolithography and aerial reconnaissance photography. In 1957 he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology, located in New York. There he studied under Minor White
In 1960 he earned a master's degree from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology. While studying there he was influenced by Aaron Siskind
and Harry Callahan
After earning his master's degree in 1960 Kenneth Josephson worked at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
from 1960 to 1997, when he retired. In 1963 he co-founded the Society for Photographic Education with thirty other notable photographers. His works in the 1960s and 1970s which were focused on conceptual photography placed him at the forefront of conceptual photography. In 1972 he was awarded with the Guggenheim Fellowship
grant by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 1975 and in 1979 he was awarded with the NEA grant by the National Endowment for the Arts agency.
Many of his collections are found in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art
of New York City, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the National Museum of American Art and The Bibliothèque nationale de France
in Paris. In 1977 and 1983 many of his works became part of exhibitions in Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and France.
Kenneth Josephson is recognized as one of the pioneers of conceptual photography. He has explored the concepts of photographic truth and illusion throughout his career, producing a varied oeuvre that utilizes a range of techniques from collage and construction to multiple exposures and single negative photographs. Focusing on what it means to make a picture, Josephson’s work playfully highlights the illusive nature of photography.
New York State (1970) is one of Josephson’s most well known photographs, and one of a much larger series incorporating pictures within pictures. We see the artist’s arm, stretching over a body of water, and just above the horizon line he holds a picture of a ship. Positioning this ship so that it appears proportionally equal to a full-sized ship in the distance, the photograph is deliberately composed to draw attention to its artifice.
Source: Yancey Richardson
In 1963 he became a founding member of the Society for Photographic Education, and in 1964 his work was included in John Szarkowski’s exhibition, “The Photographer’s Eye,”
which traveled internationally to forty venues from 1964 to 1972. Josephson received his first museum retrospective in 1999–2000 at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum
. His work is featured in numerous collections around the world and his monographs include: Kenneth Josephson
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1983; Kenneth Josephson: A Retrospective
The Art Institute of Chicago, 1999; Kenneth Josephson: The First Fifty Years
Stephen Daiter Gallery, 2008; Kenneth Josephson: Matthew
2054 Press and Stephen Daiter Gallery, 2012; Kenneth Josephson: Selected Photographs
Only Photography, 2013; and The Light of Coincidence: The Photographs of Kenneth Josephson
University of Texas Press, 2016.
Source: Gitterman Gallery