Throughout his prolific career as a photographer, Emmet Gowin has threaded together seemingly disparate subjects—his wife, Edith, and their extended family; American and European landscapes; aerial views of environmental devastation—that reflect his ongoing interest in issues of scale, the impact of the individual, and notions of belonging. This long-awaited survey, Emmet Gowin pays tribute to Gowin’s remarkable career and his impact on the medium.
Following his marriage to Edith Morris in 1964, Gowin began work on a series of images of his extended family that is now recognized as a touchstone of twentieth-century American photography. He photographed their children and their aging parents, and made intimate portraits of his wife, carrying on a photographic tradition inherited from his mentor, Harry Callahan, with whom he studied in the 1960s. His focus broadened in the 1980s, when he began an exploration of landscape and aerial photography, most specifically in his documentation of Mount St. Helens and the American West. He has since photographed in the Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, Japan, and the United States with a continued interest in irrigation, mining and natural resources, and the environmental effects of military testing. As a photography professor at Princeton University from 1973 to 2009, Gowin exerted a powerful influence on several generations of photographers. A related exhibition is organized by Fundación Mapfre, Madrid, and will open in June 2013 with the possibility of traveling to the United States and The Netherlands.
Emmet Gowin (born in Danville, Virginia, 1941) earned his MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967, after studying graphic design as an undergraduate. His black-and-white photographs have been exhibited in the United States and abroad, including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Corcorcan Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Escape Photographie Marie de Paris. Gowin’s work is included in major museum collections worldwide; he has published more than six monographs; and he has been awarded several honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Pew Fellowship for the Arts, and the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Keith F. Davis is senior curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, and also serves as an advisor to the Hall Family Foundation. He received a master’s degree in 1979 in art history from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. After a research internship at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, during 1978–79, he became curator of the Fine Art Collections at Hallmark Cards, Inc. Upon the gift to the museum of the Hallmark Photographic Collection in December 2005, Davis became the Nelson-Atkins’s founding curator of photography.