Photography

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.
Albino sword swallower at a carnival, Maryland
Anonymous, San Francisco
Diesel Pumps
London
McLean, Virginia
The Sentinel Rock, 3270ft.

About Photography

The first significant group of photographs to enter the Gallery’s collection were two extraordinary sets of images by Man Ray. A group of fifteen “Rayographs” came to the Gallery in 1941 from Marcel Duchamp and Katherine S. Dreier as part of the Société Anonyme collection of modern art, followed in 1953 by an additional group of photographic prints and Rayographs in a bequest from Dreier’s estate. The Gallery began to actively collect photographs in 1971, with the acquisition of twenty-five prints by Walker Evans, who taught at the Yale School of Art from 1964 to 1974, and today the collection holds over 700 of Evans’s prints and Polaroids.

The collection holds sets of master prints by Robert Adams and Lee Friedlander, along with significant holdings of the work of Donald Blumberg, Lucien Aigner, and Inge Morath. The collection also includes strong examples from the tradition of street photography, including works by Lewis Hine, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, and Garry Winogrand, and notable images of war and social upheaval by 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 Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, An-My Lê, Christian Marclay, Judith Joy Ross, Mark Ruwedel, James Welling, Zhang Huan, and others. The Gallery proudly features photographs by some of the medium’s most influential educators—including Richard Benson, Carl Chiarenza, Emmet Gowin, Nathan Lyons, and Tod Papageorge—as well as examples by prominent graduates from the Yale School of Art.

The collection is available to students and scholars through exhibitions and by appointment. Please email Gabriella Svenningsen (gabriella.svenningsen@yale.edu) at least two weeks in advance to view original photographs. All appointment requests must be made in writing.

Note from the Curator

Over the past twenty years, artists Adam Broomberg (British, born South Africa 1970) and Oliver Chanarin (British, born 1971) have been at the forefront of defining the changing discourse on contemporary photography, investigating the complex relationship between images and power. In June 2008, posing as journalists, the London-based artists traveled to Helmand Province in Afghanistan to embed with the British army. On their fifth day in Afghanistan, the first day on which there were no fatalities, they made the exposure that became the work The Day Nobody Died V, June 10, 2008. Broomberg and Chanarin created this work by briefly exposing a rolled, 20-foot section of photographic paper to the hot Afghan sun. The photograph is unique in that it was not made from a negative but rather by transporting the paper all the way to Afghanistan so that, although completely abstract, it bears a physical relationship to the place. The washes of grainy color are simply traces of a chemical process, abstract patterns created by exposure to heat and light. The image subverts expectations of war photography and calls attention to the limits of photojournalism and of the embedding process itself, which was invented by the army to control how journalists cover conflict. The Day Nobody Died V is currently on view in the exhibition Before the Event/After the Fact: Contemporary Perspectives on War through December 31.

Judy Ditner

The Richard Benson Assistant Curator of Photography and Digital Media

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, The Day Nobody Died V, June 10, 2008, 2008. Chromogenic print on Dibond. Yale University Art Gallery, Richard Brown Baker, B.A. 1935, Fund

Meet the Curator

Judy Ditner

Judy Ditner is the Richard Benson Assistant Curator of Photography and Digital Media. Her research interests in photography span the history of the medium, with emphases on documentary and conceptual practices. Ditner has worked on exhibitions for the International Center of Photography and the New Museum in New York, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, and the Ryerson Image Center in Toronto. She holds a PH.D. in art history from Boston University with specializations in the history of photography and contemporary art, an M.A. in curatorial studies from Bard College, and a B.F.A. in photography from Ryerson University in Toronto.

judy.ditner@yale.edu

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Further Reading

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.
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Adams, Robert. Denver: A Photographic Survey of the Metropolitan Area, 1970–1974, rev. ed. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2009.
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Adams, Robert. Sea Stories. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011.
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Adams, Robert. This Day: Photographs from Twenty-Five Years, The Northwest Coast. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011.
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Adams, Robert. Summer Nights, Walking. New Haven and New York: Yale University Art Gallery and Apreture, 2009.
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Adams, Robert. What Can We Believe Where?: Photographs of the American West. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2010.
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Adams, Robert. What We Bought: The New World—Scenes from the Denver Metropolitan Area, 1970–1974. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2009.
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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.
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Chuang, Joshua. First Doubt: Optical Confusion in Modern Photography, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008.
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Chuang, Joshua, ed. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin: Photography at Yale (2006).
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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.
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Friedlander, Lee. JFK: A Photographic Memoir. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2013.
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Friedlander, Lee. Playing for the Benefit of the Band: New Orleans Music Culture. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2013.
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Ranney, Edward. The Lines. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2014.
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Reynolds, Jock. Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2002.
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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.
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Ruwedel, Mark. Westward the Course of Empire. With an essay by Jock Reynolds. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008.
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Lyons, Nathan. After 9/11: Photographs, exh. cat. With a poem by Marvin Bell. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2003.

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