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MARK KLETT


Exhibition:  October 9 to November 13, 2011
Lecture: November 4, 4 pm

MARK KLETT and BYRON WOLFE, Site of a dangerous leap, now overgrown, 2008, digital inkjet print, inset: colored postcard, undated, courtesy of Mark Klett

Klett photo

Mark Klett walks in the footsteps of nineteenth-century photographers who journeyed to the great wilderness of the American West and created iconic images that helped define us as a nation. His work at locations like Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon examines the intersection of time and place, analyzing how we conceptualize both.

Klett, who trained as a geologist, takes a long view of the landscape. In 1977, he and two colleagues began the Rephotographic Survey Project. Looking at photographs made a century earlier, they located the exact vantage points used by Carlton Watkins, William Henry Jackson, and others, and then meticulously rephotographed the view. The old and new images, published side-by-side in a 1984 book called Second View, revealed both enduring geographic features and the human impact on the environment.

In recent years, collaborating with Byron Wolfe, Klett has created large scale panoramas that merge his own photographs with historic views, uniting past and present in a visual continuum. In Rock Formations on the Road to Lee’s Ferry, AZ, two black-and-white 1872 photographs by William Bell are seamlessly inserted into a contemporary digital color image of the scene. The road through the sun-bleached desert eerily disappears in the old photographs and humans sitting on the ground are dwarfed by dramatic rock formations. In the present day, a camper chugs out of the past in a terrain that has barely changed in one hundred and thirty years, save for that stretch of blacktop.

Klett has expanded the range of historic images he uses to embrace classic modernist photographs from the 1930s by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, vintage postcards, and historic drawings and sketches. However, he continues to meld old and new, creating a sense of past and present co-existing.

Klett’s work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally for more than three decades and is part of the collection of more than eighty museums worldwide, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. He has received fellowships from Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan/US Friendship Commission. He is the author of thirteen books, including Saguaros (2007); Yosemite in Time (2005); and Third Views, Second Sights (2005), a follow-up to Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project (1984). Klett is Regents Professor of Art at Arizona State University in Tempe.

2011-2012 ROBERT C. MAY PHOTOGRAPHY ENDOWMENT LECTURE SERIES page
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