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Ralph Gibson - Eighty @ Eighty: Recent Gifts to the Permanent Collection

May 26 – October 14, 2018
Palm Springs Art Museum, Marks Graphics Center
Ralph Gibson (American, born 1939 in Los Angeles) first became interested in photography while serving in the United States Navy from 1956-1960. Afterwards, he was an assistant to Dorothea Lange and eventually worked under Robert Frank at Magnum Photos, where he realized photojournalism wasn’t the right fit for him.

In 1970 Gibson’s reputation was secured with the publication of his self-published photographic book The Somnambulist, a work that identified him with dreamy sequences and the Leica camera, which he uses exclusively. With the founding of his own company, Lustrum Press in 1969, he produced over 40 monographs of his own work and of others who also use hand-held cameras.

Gibson is known for his use of high contrast images that nevertheless retain extensive tonal ranges. His photographs also fragment his subjects, creating narrative readings that are mysterious and erotic through their surreal juxtapositions. They are thus simultaneously descriptive and abstract: “It occurred to me that my camera as an instrument had located a dream reality,” he has said. Other surrealist tropes are evident in his carefully cropped and printed images, including surprising contrasts meant to convey irrational connections and subconscious desires. Along with the fragment, Gibson’s use of shadows is a favorite strategy to evoke the psychology of the uncanny, a strange or foreboding mood that accompanies unsettled perception.

All prints on view here are gifts of Clay Ide and David Shaw.

 Lupe Alberras (Alberas or Alveras), Cahuilla, Santa Rosa Reservation, active first quarter 20th century, Rattlesnake Basket. 1901-1925, sumac, natural and dyed juncus on a deer grass bundle foundation, Gift of Cornelia B. White from the Marjorie Rose Dougan Collection (A96-1974)