Emmet Gowin

(b. 1941)

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(1941– ).

Photographer. Known especially for landscapes, including many taken from the air, he combines representation of particular localities with environmental and formal concerns. He has also produced a long series intimately chronicling his family life. Although he generally crafts fastidious, rich, and precise black-and-white prints, he has also worked with color. Born in Danville, Virginia, he discovered photography as a fine arts student at the Richmond Professional Institute (now part of Virginia Commonwealth University). There he came to believe that photography could integrate imagination and reality more powerfully than painting. From 1965 to 1967 he continued as a graduate student at Providence's Rhode Island School of Design, where he worked with Harry Callahan. Gowin has also identified the work of Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Frank, and Frederick Sommer as influences on his development. He has taught at Princeton University since 1973 and lives in nearby Newtown, Pennsylvania. Gowin has been photographing regularly from the air since 1980, when he used the technique to record the devastation of the Mount Saint Helens volcanic eruption. Much of his subsequent aerial work treats the landscape in relation to large-scale human transformation or desecration, often of a military or industrial nature. However, his images avoid both irony and overt moralizing. Rather, in the seriousness and formal coherence of his compositions, he conveys an inherent message of respect for the earth. His publications include Emmet Gowin: Photographs (1976), Petra: In the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (1986), and Emmet Gowin: Aerial Photographs (1997). His son, photographer Elijah Gowin (1967– ), born in Dayton, Ohio, graduated from Davidson (North Carolina) College and received his MFA from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Subjects: Art.

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