Emmet Gowin

Emmet Gowin Biography Over the course of his career, American photographer Emmet Gowin has been known for poignantly capturing an expansive range of subjects. From intimate portraits of his wife and family, to aerial landscapes that explore the haunting devastation of nuclear testing, Gowin’s ability to capture emotion in both the living and the decaying has garnered him international acclaim for more than six decades. Born in Virginia in 1941, Gowin studied graphic design at the Richmond Professional Institute and went on to receive an MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Studying under Harry Callahan at RISD, Gowin adopted his professor’s penchant for using his wife as a model in his early photographs. The photos, which also included her family, earned him early acclaim with a show at the George Eastman House in 1970 and the Museum of Modern Art in 1971. Gowin’s body of work would go on to contain a magnitude of subjects, including experimentation with aerial landscape photography. These works captured swathes of land after varying degrees of interaction with man, from fields of harvested crop to the barren dunes of nuclear test sites. In the early 70s Gowin became a professor of photography at Princeton University, a position he would use to inspire generations of photographers for over thirty years. In addition to his early shows in the 1970s, Gowin’s work was presented in a major traveling retrospective organized by The Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1990. His black-and-white photographs have been exhibited in the United States and abroad, including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Escape Photographie Marie de Paris. He has published six monographs and been awarded numerous times, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Pew Fellowship for the Arts, and the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Today, Gowin’s work is in the permanent collections of many major institutions including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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