Join us at Book Beat on Sunday, August 7 from 3:00-4:00pm to welcome influential conceptual photographer and Detroit-native Kenneth Josephson, who will be signing copies of the latest monograph of his work, The Light of Coincidence: The Photographs of Kenneth Josephson. A rare copy of his classic work, The Bread Book will also be on display ahead of a very limited edition reissue coming out in September. This event is free and open to the public. For more information or to reserve a copy, please contact Book Beat (248) 968-1190.
Kenneth Josephson is one of the foremost conceptual photographers in America. Since the early 1960s, when institutions such as MoMA privileged photography in the documentary mode, Josephson has championed the photograph as an object “made,” not taken, by an artist pursuing an idea. Using innovative techniques such as placing images within images and including his own body in photographs, Josephson has created an outstanding body of work that is startlingly contemporary and full of ideas that stimulate the digital generation—ideas about the nature of seeing, of “reality,” and of human aspirations, and about what it means to be a human observing the world.
The Light of Coincidence is the definitive, career-spanning retrospective of Kenneth Josephson’s work and one of the few volumes ever published on this major artist. Josephson has worked in series over long periods of time, and this book beautifully reproduces representative selections from every series, including Josephson’s best-known Images within Images. Lynne Warren places Josephson’s art in historical context, from his early studies with Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan at the Institute of Design and with Minor White at the Rochester Institute of Technology, to his mature work, which shares affinities with that of conceptual artists such as Cindy Sherman and Ed Ruscha, to his shaping influence on generations of students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he taught for over thirty-five years. Preeminent photo historian Gerry Badger’s foreword confirms Josephson’s stature as an artist who has explored “in a thoroughly creative and complex, yet accessible, way, the perhaps narrow but infinitely deep gap between actuality and image.”
“Kenneth Josephson’s photographs have life because they are great pictures. That is why they are not only satisfying but have resonated in our consciousness for so long. . . . He has produced one of the foremost bodies of work that explores how photographic images operate and their ultimate purpose.” -Gerry Badger, from the foreword to The Light of Coincidence
“A monument of the conceptual photobook. . . . It’s the book itself that is the work of art, not the individual images. . . . Like most of the best conceptual photography, the idea is devastatingly simple on the surface, yet infinitely complex when you look beyond the surface.” —Gerry Badger on The Bread Book, author of The Photobook: A History
“The book shows the tremendous range of image-making styles, from street photography to collage, poignant family photos, references to photo history, and cheeky nudes. It’s easy to imagine they’ll continue to resonate deep into the future as well. –Famous in Chicago? What a Concept, New York Times Lens Blog article on Kenneth Josephson
Read a Wall St. Journal review of his most recent exhibition here
“Ken makes photographs through conceptualism using expedient formal strategies calling attention self-consciously to the medium’s limits. It is conceptual and accessible because it is so clearly formal while playful wit and irony prevails. His images of humor and clarity that simultaneously invite pondering speak to generations in their freshness. And curators have long taken note and continue to speak to his influence in contrast to the relative under-representation of his rich and varied oeuvre.” — Marilyn Zimmerwoman, photographer/activist/educator
Kenneth Josephson was born in Detroit in 1932. He began his formal photography training at the Rochester Institute of Technology, earning an Associate Degree before being drafted into the army in 1953, where he spent several months in Germany doing photolithography for aerial reconnaissance. He returned to R.I.T. immediately after to earn his B.F.A. studying under the new program head, Minor White. Josephson started his graduate studies at the Institute of Design in 1958 studying under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. In 1960 Josephson became an instructor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he taught until 1997. Josephson has participated in numerous exhibitions, and his works are in major museums around the world, including the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; the Center for Creative Photography; the George Eastman House; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as countless private collections.
A recent panel at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago featuring Kenneth Josephson on his career and the history of Conceptual Photography: