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The Gallery’s collection of photographs spans the medium’s history, with exceptional holdings of work made in America during the 20th century. Of particular distinction in the collection are complete sets of master prints by Robert Adams and Lee Friedlander.
Although the Yale University Art Gallery was founded before photography’s invention in 1839, the museum did not begin to actively collect photographs until 1971, when it acquired 25 prints by Walker Evans. Today the Gallery’s collection of over 12,000 photographs spans the medium’s history, with particular emphasis on work made in America during the 20th century.
Anchoring the collection are master prints by Robert Adams and Lee Friedlander, as well as significant concentrations of works by Man Ray and Walker Evans. The collection has strong examples from the tradition of street photography, including works by Lewis Hine, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, and Garry Winogrand. Also notable are pictures addressing the subjects of war and social upheaval by photographers such as Larry Burrows, Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith, and Charles Moore.
Committed to collecting the work of significant figures working today, the Gallery has acquired key works by Judith Joy Ross, Mark Ruwedel, James Welling, Christian Marclay, Zhang Huan, and others. The Gallery proudly features photographs by some of the medium’s most influential educators—including Tod Papageorge, Richard Benson, Emmet Gowin, and Nathan Lyons—as well as examples by prominent graduates from the Yale University School of Art.
Note from the Curator
Edward Ranney’s The Lines features images from one of the foremost photographers of the Peruvian landscape. In 1985 Ranney, a Yale alum, began photographing the Nazca lines, a series of monumental geoglyphs that stretch across an arid plateau in southern Peru. Created by the Nazca culture some 2,000 years ago, the lines have perplexed archaeologists and inspired scores of visual artists. In order to achieve the subtle tonal ranges of Ranney’s images, Trifolio Printing in Verona, Italy, used a process called tritone printing, and the artist was on site to ensure the highest quality. This was Ranney’s first experience using tritone printing—which uses the build-up of three layers of ink, finished with a light varnish—to reproduce his work. As Ranney explains, “The process is not unlike how I print in the darkroom. Balancing the three different ink variables is of course more complex, but Trifolio was generous with their time and expertise, so I gradually got a good feel for the process. The subtlety and efficiency with which minute adjustments can be made with tritone is astounding, and the image quality, when all works well, is very special.”
Deputy Director for Exhibitions, Programming, and Education and Interim Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Meet the Curator
Pamela Franks is Deputy Director for Exhibitions, Programming, and Education and the Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Franks has directed student curators in the creation of five major exhibitions, most recently Embodied: Black Identities in American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery (2011), and she is actively engaged in developing the Gallery’s visiting-artist programs. She is the project director for the Gallery’s College and University Art Museum Collection-Sharing Initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Franks holds a PH.D. in the History of Art from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialization in modern and contemporary art and is a 2008 graduate of the Getty Leadership Institute.
Adams, Robert. The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs, 1964–2009. 3 vols. With essays by Joshua Chuang, Tod Papageorge, Jock Reynolds, and John Szarkowski. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011.
Adams, Robert. Denver: A Photographic Survey of the Metropolitan Area, 1970–1974, rev. ed. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2009.
Adams, Robert. Sea Stories. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011.
Adams, Robert. This Day: Photographs from Twenty-Five Years, The Northwest Coast. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011.
Adams, Robert. Summer Nights, Walking. New Haven and New York: Yale University Art Gallery and Apreture, 2009.
Adams, Robert. What Can We Believe Where?: Photographs of the American West. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2010.
Adams, Robert. What We Bought: The New World—Scenes from the Denver Metropolitan Area, 1970–1974. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2009.
Anderson, Ash, Paul Katz, and Richard Benson. From Any Angle: Photographs from the Collection of Doris Bry, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008.
Chuang, Joshua. First Doubt: Optical Confusion in Modern Photography, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008.
Chuang, Joshua, ed. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin: Photography at Yale (2006).
Cornell, Daniell. Alfred Stieglitz and the Equivalent: Reinventing the Nature of Photography, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1999.
Friedlander, Lee. In the Picture: Self Portraits, 1958–2011. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011.
Reynolds, Jock. Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2002.
Ross, Judith Joy. Judith Joy Ross: Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools, Hazleton, Pennsylvania: 1992–1994. With an essay by Jock Reynolds. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006.
Ruwedel, Mark. Westward the Course of Empire. With an essay by Jock Reynolds. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008.
Lyons, Nathan. After 9/11: Photographs, exh. cat. With a poem by Marvin Bell. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2003.