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Center Presents Retrospective of Photographer Frank Gohlke

A major mid-career retrospective, Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke, will be on view at the Center for Creative Photography August 16–November 2, 2008. A leading figure in American landscape photography, Gohlke creates pictures that explore how we live and build our lives surrounded by a natural world that rarely meets our ideals and expectations.

Gohlke joined the faculty of the University of Arizona’s School of Art as full professor last year. “The Center is pleased to benefit from this opportunity where the artist is part of the staff at the University and can engage with students and participates in the presentation of the exhibition,” said Britt Salvesen, Director and Chief Curator at the Center.
Gohlke’s career in photography spans more than 35 years; a major exhibition of his large-format landscape photographs of Mount St. Helens was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2005. The present exhibition, organized by John Rohrbach, senior curator of photographs at the Amon Carter Museum, is accompanied by a catalogue that features essays by Rohrbach, Gohlke, and cultural historian Rebecca Solnit.

With 85 black-and-white and color photographs ranging up to 42-by-54 inches, Accommodating Nature surveys Gohlke’s career, beginning with work from the seminal 1975 New Topographics exhibition and continuing through projects he is immersed in today. The show includes two of Gohlke’s most important bodies of work: depictions of the destruction and rebuilding after a devastating tornado struck Wichita Falls in 1979, and a multi-year investigation of the effects of the massive volcanic explosion that blew off the top of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Large-scale color photographs of the Sudbury River in Massachusetts created between 1989 and 1992 capture pastoral New England while revealing the complexity of an overgrown river that has been taken for granted. Photographs from commissions and grants from Mississippi to Queens, New York, draw attention to people’s active accommodations to nature across wide stretches of the country, in rural and urban settings alike.

Gohlke received his BA from the University of Texas at Austin in English literature. At Yale University, where he received his MA in English in 1966, Gohlke met Walker Evans and then studied privately with Paul Caponigro. Gohlke’s photographs came to notice in the influential 1975 group exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York. The exhibition also featured
photographers Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joe Deal, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore and Henry Wessel, Jr.


Gohlke has taught at Massachusetts College of Art; the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College; the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the universities of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. As of September 2007, he is Professor of Photography in the School of Art, University of Arizona, and senior research fellow at the Center for Creative Photography, both in Tucson, Arizona.

Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke was organized by the Amon Carter Museum and is made possible in part by generous support from the Perkins-Prothro Foundation, Exelon Power, and the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation.

Artist’s Reception and Discussion
Friday, September 5, reception at 5 p.m., discussion at 6 p.m.
A reception honoring Frank Gohlke will be followed by a discussion with Gohlke and Britt Salvesen, Director and Chief Curator.

Lecture The Art that Conceals the Art
Friday, September 19, 5:30 p.m.

Ben Lifson, noted artist, critic, historian, teacher, and writer, will discuss realism and vision in Frank Gohlke’s photography and, in Flannery O’Connor’s words, “The mystery of our condition on this planet.”

Gallery Walk led by Frank Gohlke
Thursday, October 16, 5:30 p.m.

Release date: 
Tuesday, July 29, 2008