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Artist Talk: James Welling

March 19, 2015
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission

This evening with photographer James Welling launches the University of Chicago monograph James Welling: Diary/Landscape, released in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name on view in galleries 2-3, November 1, 2014–April 12, 2015

Registration is not required for this program. 

In July 1977, James Welling (American, born 1951) began photographing a two-volume travel diary kept mainly by his great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth C. Dixon, as well as landscapes in southern Connecticut, around his parents’ home. In one closely cropped image, lines of tight cursive share the page with a single ivy leaf that has been preserved in the diary. In another snowy image, a stand of leafless trees occludes the gleaming Long Island sound. A beautiful and moving meditation on family, history, memory, and place, The Diary of Elizabeth and James Dixon/Connecticut Landscapes (1977-86) reintroduced history and private emotion as subjects in high art, while also helping to usher in the centrality of photography and questions about copying as art that marked the epochal Pictures Generation.

In 2012 the Art Institute completed its purchase of the entire series of Diary/Landscape (as it is generally known): 150 photographs, each printed at the size of the 4x5-inch negative, and in an engaging variety of compositional styles and technical processes. The Art Institute's exhibition shows more of this key debut series by Welling than has ever been shown previously. An extensively illustrated book will appear on the series in December from University of Chicago Press, with an essay by Matthew S. Witkovsky, Sandor Chair and Curator of Photography at the Art Institute.

James Welling. A13, 1977, printed summer 1977, from the series Diary of Elizabeth and James Dixon (1840–41)/ Connecticut Landscapes, 1977–86. Through prior purchase with Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson. © 2011 James Welling.