Cameron, Julia M.
Coburn, Alvin L.
Talbot,William H. Fox
Alternative, Fine Art
Biography: Although Jerry Uelsmann's photographs bank
on what Roland Barthes called the 'evidential force' of the standard
photographic image, Uelsmann's work plays the standards differently.
As we project ourselves into the familiar configurations of the
two-dimensional scene, we find ourselves caught in other topographies:
landmark regions unerringly fused in seamless disjunction. His
forty-year image bank is, of course, one of the more singular
and visible of recent times, as even a cursory glance at his exhibition
record will attest. And thus the disconcerting aspects of his
work, their oft-repeated iconographic amalgams, have become, in
a certain sense, expected. But in a rich paradox that lies across
the frame of his images, Uelsman's photographs have recently been
imported into a commercial website. Here, as a pedagogical device
for illustrating computer image manipulations, they are set to
work to further electronic production by calling on the cachet
of the darkroom al-chemical product. The game, it seems, is thankfully
far from over.
The visually plausible but philosophically impossible situations
presented in Jerry Uelsmann's photographs contradict the essential
information we have come to expect from photographs. By subverting
the currency of literal fact, Uelsmann releases us from the constraints
of photography's mimetic function. No longer burdened by representation,
we naturally return to our internal, nonlinear faculties of thought
and feeling to savor the inexpressible resonance of his enigmatic
visions. Vague, despite their sharpness and fine detail, and ambiguous
despite our recognition of their constituent elements, his photographic
montages are like dreams that slip past our perceptual defenses
triggering a response but never quite revealing their meaning.
Born in Detroit in 1934, Jerry N. Uelsmann received his B.F.A.
from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1957, where he studied
under Minor White and Hat (Hattersley), and his M.S. and M.F.A.
from Indiana University in 1960. He has taught at the University
of Florida since 1960, and held the position of Graduate Research
Professor at UF since 1974. Uelsmann received a Guggenheim Fellowship
in 1967 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1972.
He is a founding member of the American Society for Photographic
Education, a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great
Britain, and has served as a trustee of the Friends of Photography.
Uelsmann's work has been exhibited in more than 100 solo shows
in the United States and abroad over the past thirty years. His
photographs are in the permanent collections of numerous museums
worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of
Modern Art in New York, the Chicago Art Institute, The International
Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, the Victoria
and Albert Museum in London, the Biblioteque National in Paris,
the National Museum of American Art in Washington, the Museum
of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Galleries of Scotland, the
Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona, the National
Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm,
the National Gallery of Canada, and the National Gallery of Australia.
Uelsmann's photographs have been reproduced and discussed in
numerous national and international journals, books, magazines
and newspapers. His photographs have also been reproduced in a
portfolio by Doubleday (1970) and by the Witkin Gallery in a limited
edition portfolio of original prints. Books include Jerry N. Uelsmann
(Millerton, N.Y.: Aperture, 1970); John L. Ward, The Criticism
of Photography as Art: The Photographs of Jerry Uelsmann (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1970); Jerry N. Uelsmann: Silver
Meditations (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Morgan and Morgan, 1975); Jerry
N. Uelsmann: Photography from 1975-1979 (Chicago: Columbia College,
1980); Jerry N. Uelsmann-Twenty-Five Years: A Retrospective (Boston:
New York Graphic Society, 1982); Uelsmann: Process and Perception
(Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1985); Jerry Uelsmann:
Photosynthesis (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1992);
and Uelsmann's Yosemite (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida,
1996). (Department of Art and Art History, University of Florida)
More on Jerry Uelsmann:
Gallery - Jerry Uelsmann
Several Examples of Jerry Uelsmann's work.
Official Website of Jerry Uelsmann. Featuring Dozens of Images,
an Extensive Biography, and much more.
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