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Matinee: Kenneth Josephson Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

8 September 2018

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 166th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Kenneth Josephson.

In his profile Kenneth Josephson: The Chicagoan Who Pioneered the Selfie, Christopher Borrelli writes:

You've never heard of Kenneth Josephson and Kenneth Josephson was never really worried that you've never heard of him. The man was meta before meta became meta. He was experimenting with the self-referential lingua franca of Instagram before the Internet was a gleam in the eye of the Department of Defense.

How can a man who has been described as "foundational" also be so obscure?

As far as Josephson became known, it was as a conceptual photographer, layering pictures within pictures to focus on the art of making pictures. There are a few in this video, including his favorite, the one of his son Matthew, who predeceased him.

Sometimes these image are indeed that profound. And sometimes they are just silly, like life itself. His approach inevitably questions just what a photograph can tell us. And that's no way to get noticed.

He did the work, though.

He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1957 where he studied under Minor White. In 1960, he earned a Masters degree from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where he was influenced by Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind.

Josephson taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 30 years beginning in 1967 and was a founding member of the Society for Photographic Education. He was the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 1972) and the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1975 and again in 1979.

His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bibliotheque National in Paris and Fotografiska Museet in Stockholm. A retrospective monograph of Josephson's work was published by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999.

And still you've never heard of him. Until today.

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