William Christenberry is firmly established as a contemporary American master photographer, but no comprehensive overview of his diverse talents is currently in print. This 260-page volume--the largest Christenberry overview yet published--corrects this lacuna, offering a thematic survey of his half-century-long career. It is composed of 13 sections, each devoted to a particular series or theme: the wooden sculptures of Southern houses, cafes and shops; the early, black-and-white, Walker Evans-influenced photographs of Southern interiors, taken in Alabama and Mississippi in the early 60s; documentations of Ku Klux Klan meeting houses and rallies, from the mid-1960s; color photographs of tenant houses in Alabama, from 1961 to 1978; signs in landscapes, ranging from handwritten gas station signs to Klan and corporate signs; graves (which, through Christenberry's lens, emerge as a kind of folk art); churches in Alabama, Delaware and Mississippi, taken between the mid-1960s and the 80s; Alabama street scenes, in towns such as Demopolis, Marion and Greensboro; street scenes in Tennessee (mostly Memphis); Southern landscapes; gas stations, trucks and cars in Alabama; and a selection from Christenberry's famous series of buildings to which he returns annually, photographing them over several decades-the palmist building, the Underground Nite Club, Coleman's Cafe, the Bar-B-Q Inn, the Green Warehouse and the Christenberry family home, near Stewart, Alabama. William Christenberry (born 1936) has been a professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, D.C., since 1968. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions over the last 40 years, and can be found in numerous permanent collections, including those of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson. His work was the subject of a major year-long solo exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2006.
Although best known for his large-format color photographs made with vintage Kodak Brownie cameras, William Christenberry has also consistently produced work with 35 mm Kodachrome slide film since he took up photography. "William Christenberry: Kodachromes" is the first publication to showcase this stunning and previously unknown body of work, spanning from 1964 to 2007, of which only a small number of images have ever been published or exhibited. As in all of Christenberry's photographs, the subject matter is the rural Deep South: the twisting back roads, open landscapes, rusted signage and ramshackle vernacular architecture found in Hale County, Alabama. Though many of the sites pictured in this rare collection are new, other subjects have grown iconic in Christenberry's oeuvre as he has returned to photograph them over the decades--the red building in the forest, Sprott Church, the Palmist Sign and the Bar-B-Q Inn, among others. The photographs in "William Christenberry: Kodachromes" were made with a camera that allowed for greater mobility, revealing new ways of considering Christenberry's perennial subjects and offering further insight into the working method of this venerable artist. William Christenberry (born 1936) has been a professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, D.C., since 1968. His work has been the subject of dozens of solo shows and exhibitions over the last 40 years, and can be found in numerous permanent collections, including those of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Center for Creative Photography, Tucson. His work was the subject of a major year-long solo exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2006.
"Since the early 1960s, Christenberry has returned to the American South for his artistic inspiration, primarily centering on his early home in the Black Belt counties of Alabama. ... Christenberry's poetic elucidation of Southern vernacular landscape and architecture--using the media of photography, drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, and miniaturization--reveals the vital importance of geography and place, real and imaginary, as central to his life's work."--Jacket.
Somehow I feel like I can reach out and touch memory. Somehow it is malleable, you can manipulate it, form it, shape it. It certainly can shape you. William Christenberry Working from Memory is a collection of stories by the renowned visual artist William Christenberry. Christenberrys writings emerge from the literary tradition of the American Deep South and yet can clearly be seen as an integral part of his oeuvre. With their lucid, lyrical qualities they illuminate personal experience against a backdrop of the important political and cultural aspects of the Southern States.
Presenting for the first time this major body of paintings and constructions, The Early Years places Christenberry's work and his life in the South in significant new context. Nationally recognized as an artist, photographer, teacher, and arts advocate, William Christenberry has lived and worked in Washington, D.C., since 1968, when he became a professor of painting at the Corcoran Gallery School of Art. Although Christenberry is well known as a photographer and sculptor, relatively little has been known about his early paintings and his career in the South prior to 1968. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1936, Christenberry is closely identified with the culture and environment of his native South, specifically with the region around Hale County, Alabama, the same region memorialized by James Agee and Walker Evans in the classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. That book, first discovered by Christenberry when it was reissued in 1960, served as a major influence upon his early aesthetic development, including the creation of his "Tenant House" series of paintings, photographs, and studies (1960-1964). Throughout The Early Years, Christenberry's work is presented as part of an evolutionary series of developments that began with Christenberry's immersion in the Abstract Expressionist philosophies and techniques taught at The University of Alabama during his years as a student there (1954-1959) and continued through his abandonment of painting on canvas (1964) and his inclusion of signs and found objects in the three-dimensional constructions he created in Memphis (1964-1968).. Many of the pieces featured in The Early Years were in storage in Christenberry's attic for nearly three decades. Now part of a national touring exhibition, they richly deserve the close attention J. Richard Gruber here gives them.
Follow the evolution of the vision and career of one of the South's foremost photographers."Santa Claus had brought me and my sister a small Brownie camera in the late 1940s, and I just loaded it with color film and went out to that Alabama landscape and began to photograph what caught my eye." This article appears in the Summer 2011 issue of Southern Cultures:The Photography Issue.
Friedlander's social landscape is a who's who of postwar American photography In the 1960s and '70s, Lee Friedlander (born 1934) developed his signature approach to documenting the American "social landscape": deadpan, structurally complex black-and-white photographs of seemingly anything, anybody or anyplace that passed in front of his lens. But as he was making his name as a documentary photographer capturing the look and feel of modern American life, he was also photographing his closest friends, a practice he has continued throughout his long career. A slipcased set of six paperback books, The Mind and the Hand presents the photographer's intimate portraits of six of his best friends taken over the past five decades. The subjects, each presented in their own separate volume, comprise a veritable who's who of one of America's most fertile periods in photography: Richard Benson, William Christenberry, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, John Szarkowski and Garry Winogrand. Each volume begins with a relevant quote from its subject.
Since the early 1960s, William Christenberry has plumbed the regional identity of the American South through his work in Hale County, Alabama, where he was raised. Although he is most often associated with--and recognized as a pioneer in--American color photography, he also works in an unorthodox mix of media that includes sculpture, drawing, painting and found-object assemblage. This comprehensive survey of his work considers all those practices together, and in doing so gives readers access to the full scope and complexity of his vision. In every medium, Christenberry's theme is unified: the history, the story of place, is at the heart of his project. His poetic documentation of vernacular architecture, signage and landscape captures moments of quiet beauty in a sometimes mythic terrain that, with its worn iconography and buildings turned ramshackle, evokes the form and power of the passage of time. Since relocating to Washington, D.C., in 1968, Christenberry has dutifully returned to photograph the same locations annually--the green barn, the palmist building, the Bar-B-Q Inn--fulfilling a personal ritual and documenting the physical changes wrought by the passing of a year. More than half the photographs in this comprehensive survey are previously unpublished, including new and vintage images and a stunning selection of never-before-seen Kodachrome work. An essay by Walter Hopps, the artist's lifelong friend and the founding director of the Menil Collection, who passed away in 2005, will draw attention as well.
The Christenberry/Christenbury/Crusenberry (formerly Quisenberry) fami- lies of Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and elsewhere.
Since the early 1960s, William Christenberry has plumbed the regional identity of the American South focusing his attention on Hale County, Alabama, from which he hails. Although he is most often associated with American color photography, his multifaceted vision encompasses a mix of media that includes sculpture, drawing, painting and found-object assemblage. To understand the scope and complexity of his decades-long project, these various media must be considered together. His documentation of vernacular architecture, country churches and graveyards, signage, and landscape captures moments of quiet beauty in a sometimes mythic terrain that, with its worn iconography and buildings turned ramshackle, evokes the form and power of the passage of time. Since relocating to Washington, D.C., in 1968, Christenberry has dutifully returned home to photograph and consider the same locations annually - the green barn, the palmist building, the Bar-B-Q Inn, among others - fulfilling a personal ritual and documenting the physical changes wrought by the passing of a year. More than half the work in this comprehensive publication is previously unpublished.
J. Richard Gruber's latest monograph on William Christenberry, explores the artist's work and how it relates to the cultural production of previous generations of Christenberrys. The book adds to the body of art historical texts, concerning itself not only with the work of William Christenberry but also with art from the American South and Southern American culture.
Although Evans and Christenberry share many of the same subjects and concerns, there is a dramatic difference to the meaning of their work. Evans photographed a culture in a state of economic and spiritual crisis, while Christenberry's photographs are more like traces of timeless, mysterious forces.