Bill Dane

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Dane, c.2010

Bill Dane (aka Bill Zulpo-Dane, born William Thacher Dane on November 12, 1938) is a North American street photographer. Dane pioneered a way to subsidize his public by using photographic postcards.[1][2] He has mailed over 50,000 of his pictures as photo-postcards since 1969.[3][4][5][6][7] As of 2007, Dane's method for making his photographs available shifted from mailing photo-postcards to offering his entire body of work on the internet.[8]


Dane studied Political Science and Art/Painting at the University of California, Berkeley.[4] He graduated with a BA in 1964, and a MA in Art/Painting in 1968. Dane painted for seven years before discovering photography in 1969.[2][9] He worked with Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander at Hampshire College in the summer of 1971.[10][11]

Photographic career[edit]

Universal City, 1974[12]
San Francisco, 2005[13]

Dane was recognized by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation with Guggenheim Fellowships in 1973 and 1982.[14] He received Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976 and 1977.[15] He used his grants to photograph inside and outside North America. The results of Dane’s explorations have been viewed on his photo-postcards, in exhibitions, catalogs, books, magazines, and over the internet. Unfamiliar Places: A Message From Bill Dane was his seminal exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1973.[4][5] While Dane continues as a straight, still photographer working in public places, his pictures have evolved dramatically over time.[13]


Dane's photographs are held in the following permanent public collections:

Reactions of notable critics[edit]

  • A. D. Coleman "Now, if I were a photographer myself, I would be deeply Insulted by this show. I would be insulted that an institution so prestigious and powerful as the Museum of Modern Art would present, as photographically exemplary, a collection of random snapshots by someone who has not even established enough craft competence to make his disregard of craft standards a significant esthetic choice."[30]
  • John Szarkowski: "It seems to me that the subject of Bill Dane’s pictures is the discovery of lyric beauty in Oakland, or the discovery of surprise and delight in what we had been told was a wasteland of boredom, the discovery of classical measure in the heart of God’s own junkyard, the discovery of a kind of optimism, still available at least to the eye."[2]
  • Patricia Bosworth: "In class [Diane Arbus] kept stressing the factual, the literal, the specificity inherent in photography. She loved Bill Dane’s postcard photographs of American landscapes."[10]
  • Diana Edkins: "The adequacy of meaning lies in what we recognize as the intensity of Dane’s human response."[7]
  • Ann Swidler: "A strain of American photography since Robert Frank has concerned itself with finding what is centrally American - attempting the great American novel in visual form." "The greatest American stories, like The Deerslayer, Huckleberry Finn, or Moby Dick, were boys’ stories, written for a culture which didn’t want to grow up. Yet in their secret hearts, those stories were about evil and the kind of redemption that might come from confronting its mysteries." "Dane shows us not an exotic heart of darkness, but the American difficulty in dealing with what we cannot understand, own, or control." "Bill Dane's photographs seem to be about foreignness, both here and abroad. But they are really about us as Americans. They ask whether we can learn to love - not because alien worlds accommodate themselves to what we expect, but because we have learned to see even where we cannot understand."[1]
  • Jeffrey Fraenkel: "'What’s that?' is not an uncommon response for viewers confronting one of Bill Dane’s photographs. This is a curious question, given the fact that Dane approaches the 'real world' with his camera as squarely as Atget, Evans, or Friedlander. He photographs what exists, with no manipulation or fabrication." [31]
  • Sandra S. Phillips: "The vision of the world of Bill Dane, both inside and outside America, is often downright funny. But often, it is also a tragic vision. In his photographs are voltages, a disturbing strangeness."[32]
  • Bill Berkson: "Dane has cast himself as a surveyor of ceremonies stuck deep in our wishful, ornamental glut, our fuss."[33]
Dane, c.1970


  1. ^ a b Swidler, Ann. Introduction to: Bill Dane Photographs Outside and Inside America, Diputacion Provencial De Granada, Spain, 1993
  2. ^ a b c Szarkowski, John - Eugenia Parry Janis and Wendy MacNeil, eds. Photography Within the Humanities, New Hampshire, Addison House, 1977, words: pp.81&85, picture: p.85
  3. ^ Leger, Marc James. Posting the Personal, Some Thoughts on the Postcard Work of Bill Dane Visual & Cultural Studies, University of Rochester, New York, 1995
  4. ^ a b c Szarkowski, John - "Unfamiliar Places: A Message from Bill Dane," The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1973
  5. ^ a b Collins, James. ARTFORUM, Review of Bill Dane, 12, #7, March 1974, words: pp.76&77, picture: p.76
  6. ^ Green, Jonathan. American Photography: A Critical History 1945 to the Present, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1984, words: p.180, picture: p.178
  7. ^ a b Edkins, Diana. Landscape & Discovery, Hofstra University, New York, 1973, words: pp.1&3, picture: p.13
  8. ^ A Comprehensive Catalog of Photographer Bill Dane's Work: Bill Dane On The Internet Archived March 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ FitzGibbon, John. Death Valley to Phoenix to Santa Fe and the Sangre De Christo, Hope You Like It, Aperture Magazine 94 (Spring 1984), words: pp.22-25, pictures: pp.23-31
  10. ^ a b Bosworth, Patricia. Diane Arbus: A Biography, New York, Knopf, 1984, words: p.304
  11. ^ Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts: Notable Past and Present Faculty
  12. ^ Fraenkel, Jeffrey and Eugenia Parry Janis. The Kiss of Apollo: Photography & Sculpture 1845 to the Present, Fraenkel Gallery and Bedford Arts, San Francisco, 1991, words: p.10, picture: pl.34
  13. ^ a b Baker, Kenneth. "Nothing Escapes His Eye, Not Even Himself," San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, June 3, 2006
  14. ^ From All Guggenheim Fellowships
  15. ^ From NEA Annual report 1976 and NEA Annual Report 1978
  16. ^ [1] Amon Carter Museum of American Art- Bill Dane
  17. ^ [2] Art Institute of Chicago - William Dane
  18. ^ [3] Bibliotheque Nationale Paris - Bill Dane
  19. ^ [4] Harvard Art Museum - Bill Dane
  20. ^ [5] The Met - Bill Dane
  21. ^ [6] Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - William Thacher Dane
  22. ^ [7] The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Bill Dane
  23. ^ [8] MoMA - Bill Dane
  24. ^ [9] National Gallery of Art, DC - Bill Dane
  25. ^ [10] OSU Library Catalog - Bill Dane
  26. ^ [11] The Vanguard: "[...] and a final part where the authors are best represented within the collection, such as Bill Dane ("Outside and inside America")[...]"
  27. ^ [12] Granada Today: "Since yesterday, the Palace of the Counts of Gabia has exhibited them along with a hundred snapshots made by top-level artists such as Chema Madoz, Bill Dane, Ouka Leele, Manuel Bello and Angeles Agrela. All of them belong to the photographic collection of the provincial institution and are part of the Showroom exhibition [...]"
  28. ^ [13] SFMoMA - Bill Dane
  29. ^ [14] Smithsonian Libraries - Bill Dane
  30. ^ "Focus on the Old South," A.D. Coleman, New York Times, December 16, 1973
  31. ^ Fraenkel, Jeffrey. Bill Dane's History of the Universe, San Francisco, Fraenkel Gallery, 1992, words: p.Introduction, pictures: pp.1-25
  32. ^ Phillips, Sandra - Yolanda Romero Gomez, Comisaria. "Coleccion Deputacion De Granada," Diputacion Provencial De Granada, Spain, 1995, words: pp.60-61, picture: p.63
  33. ^ Berkson, Bill. ARTFORUM, Review of Bill Dane, 25 # 3, November 1986, words: pp.143-144, picture: p.144

Further reading[edit]

  • Dane, Bill: pictures, Katherine Mills: design, Gary Bogus: binding. Little Known, Handmade Book, Bill Dane, Albany, CA, 1983
  • Gollonet, Carlos, Coordina. Catalog to accompany the Exhibition, Bill Dane Photographs Outside and Inside America, Diputacion Provencial De Granada, Spain and The Fraenkel Gallery, 1993
  • Di Rosa, Rene. Local Color, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1999, words: p. 10, words and picture: pp. 82–83
  • FitzGibbon, John. California A-Z and Return, The Butler Institute, Youngstown, Ohio, 1990, words and picture: p. 12
  • Graphis Press, Robert Delpire Introduction. Fine Art Photography ‘95, Graphis Publishing, Zurich, Switzerland, 1995, picture: p. 79
  • Galassi, Peter. Walker Evans & Company, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2000, picture: p. 195
  • Gomez, Yolanda Romero, Coordina. Exhibit: Bill Dane Photographs Outside and Inside America, Diputacion Provencial De Granada, Spain, 1993
  • Green, Jonathan. The Snapshot, New York, Aperture Foundation, 1974, pictures: pp. 96–105
  • Harris, Melissa, ed. APERTURE, # 124, Collection of Joshua P. Smith, summer 1991, picture: p. 32
  • Heyman, Therese. Slices of Time: California Landscapes 1860 -1880, 1960–1980, Oakland, Oakland Museum, 1981, picture: p. 21
  • Munsterberg, Marjorie. Calendar, On Time, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1974, pictures: week of Aug 25
  • Noble, Alexandra and Nigel Barley, et al. The Animal in Photography1843-1985, The Photographer's Gallery, London, 1986, picture: p. 9
  • Osman, Colin and Peter Turner. Creative Camera, Sept. 1976, pictures: pp. 308–311
  • Phillips, Sandra. Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Chronicle Books, San Francisco 1996, picture: plate103
  • Phillips, Sandra. Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with Yale University Press, 2010, words: p. 23, picture: pl.30
  • Rubinfien, Leo. Love/Hate Relations, Review of work by Tod Papageorge and Bill Dane, ARTFORUM, NY, Vol. 26, #10, Summer 1978, words: pp. 46–51, pictures: pp. 46,50,51
  • Silverman, Ruth. Athletes, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1987, picture: p. 123
  • Silverman, Ruth. Dog Days, San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1989, picture: week of Aug 8
  • Silverman, Ruth. The Dog, San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 2000, picture: p. 79
  • Silverman, Ruth. San Francisco Observed, San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1986, picture: p. 116
  • Szarkowski, John. American Landscapes, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1981, picture: p. 72
  • Szarkowski, John. Mirrors and Windows, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1978, pictures: pp. 122–123
  • Turner, Peter, ed. American Images: Photography 1945-1980, London, Penguin Books/Barbican Art gallery, 1985, words-picture: p. 162
  • Velick, Bruce. A Kiss is Just A Kiss, Crown Publishers, N.Y. 1990, picture: p. 38

External links[edit]