Kenneth Josephson is one of the foremost conceptual photographers in America. Since the early 1960s, when institutions such as MoMA privileged photography in the documentary mode, Josephson has championed the photograph as an object “made,” not taken, by an artist pursuing an idea. Using innovative techniques such as placing images within images and including his own body in photographs, Josephson has created an outstanding body of work that is startlingly contemporary and full of ideas that stimulate the digital generation—ideas about the nature of seeing, of “reality,” and of human aspirations, and about what it means to be a human observing the world.
The Light of Coincidence is the definitive, career-spanning retrospective of Kenneth Josephson’s work and one of the few volumes ever published on this major artist. Josephson has worked in series over long periods of time, and this book beautifully reproduces representative selections from every series, including Josephson’s best-known Images within Images. Lynne Warren places Josephson’s art in historical context, from his early studies with Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan at the Institute of Design and with Minor White at the Rochester Institute of Technology, to his mature work, which shares affinities with that of conceptual artists such as Cindy Sherman and Ed Ruscha, to his shaping influence on generations of students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he taught for over thirty-five years. Preeminent photo historian Gerry Badger’s foreword confirms Josephson’s stature as an artist who has explored “in a thoroughly creative and complex, yet accessible, way, the perhaps narrow but infinitely deep gap between actuality and image.”
Kenneth Josephson has participated in numerous exhibitions, and his works are in major museums around the world, including the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; the Center for Creative Photography; the George Eastman House; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as countless private collections.
A former student of Kenneth Josephson who first brought wide attention to his art with a mid-career survey in 1983, Lynne Warren is a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She is the author or editor of more than two dozen books, including the three-volume Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography.
Gerry Badger is an acclaimed photographer, architect, and photographic critic who has written extensively on photography and curated a number of exhibitions. His publications include the three-volume Photobook: A History and The Genius of Photography.
[Josephson] was a pioneer in conceptual photography . . . The book shows the tremendous range of image-making styles, from street photography to collage, poignant family photos, references to photo history, and cheeky nudes. It’s easy to imagine they’ll continue to resonate deep into the future.
~New York Times Lens Blog
. . . this monograph shows why for more than six decades Kenneth Josephson has been seen as a leader of conceptual photography.
~Black & White Photography
Kenneth Josephson’s photographs have life because they are great pictures. That is why they are not only satisfying but have resonated in our consciousness for so long. . . . He has produced one of the foremost bodies of work that explores how photographic images operate and their ultimate purpose.
~Gerry Badger, from the foreword
The Light of Coincidence is a substantial addition to the only other catalogue of Josephson’s work, issued by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999.
~David Travis, former chair of the Department of Photography and Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, and author of At the Edge of Light: Thoughts on Photography and Photographers, on Talent and Genius and Edward Weston: The Last Years i
This book contributes much to our knowledge of an important artist and of photography’s importance within the history of art from the 1960s onward.
~Carl Chiarenza, Fanny Knapp Allen Professor and Artist-in-Residence Emeritus, University of Rochester, and author of Aaron Siskind: Pleasures and Terrors
Foreword. Photographer on Photography: The Photographic Enquiries of Kenneth Josephson (by Gerry Badger)
Kenneth Josephson (by Lynne Warren)
List of Plates
Kenneth Josephson: Chronology
Awards, Fellowships, and Grants
Sources of Quotes
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