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Leo Rubinfien (born 1953) is an American photographer and essayist who lives and works in New York City. Rubinfien first came to prominence as part of the circle of artist-photographers who investigated new color techniques and materials in the 1970s.
Among his principal bodies of photography are A Map of The East (1992), which explores the character and idiosyncrasies of Japan, China and Southeast Asia; and Wounded Cities (2008), which explores the “mental wounds” that were left by the terror attacks in New York in 2001, and other attacks in cities around the world.
His first one-person exhibition was held at Castelli Graphics, New York, in 1981 and he has since had solo exhibitions at Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Yale University Art Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome.
Rubinfien’s work is held in numerous permanent collections.
Rubinfien is also a writer, who has published essays on major photographers of the 20th century. He contributed a memoir, Colors of Daylight to Starburst: Color Photography in America, 1970-1980 (2010).
In 2001–2004, he served as guest co-curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)’s retrospective of the work of Shomei Tomatsu and is co-author of Shomei Tomatsu / Skin of the Nation (2004). From 2010, he was guest curator of SFMOMA’s retrospective of the work of Garry Winogrand, which toured to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Jeu de Paume, Paris, in 2014.
He has held fellowships with the Guggenheim Foundation, Japan Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, and the International Center for Advanced Studies at New York University, and in 2009 was awarded the Gold Prize at the 5th Lianzhou International Photography Festival.
Books of photographs by Rubinfien
- A Map of the East. Boston: D.R. Godine, 1992 Thames & Hudson, Toshi Shuppan. ISBN 0879239433.
- 10 Takeoffs 5 Landings. Robert Mann Gallery, 1994. ASIN B0006PBJ0Y.
- Wounded Cities. Göttingen, Germany: Steidl, 2008. ISBN 978-3-86521-676-2. Photographs and a personal and historical essay by Rubinfien in Wounded Cities, which recounts the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the years that followed.
- The Ardbeg. Tokyo: Taka Ishii Gallery and Kurenboh, 2010. With an essay by Rubinfien. Edition of 1000 copies. Japanese and English text. 15 pages.
- Paths through the Global City. Stanford, CA: Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, 2011.
- Kizu Tsuita no Machi = "Wounded Cities". Tokyo: National Museum of Modern Art, 2011.
- New Turns in Old Roads. Tokyo: Taka Ishii Gallery, 2014.
Publications edited by Rubinfien
- Garry Winogrand. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Yale University, 2013. Rubinfien was editor and Author. Photographs by Garry Winogrand.
Publications with contributions by Rubinfien
- Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980. Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2010. By Kevin Moore. ISBN 978-3775724906. With essays by Rubinfien and James Crump.
- Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation. New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2004. By Rubinfien, Sandra S. Phillips, and John W. Dower. ISBN 978-0300106046. With a preface by Daidō Moriyama.
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- Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
- Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts (AKA Cantor Arts Center), Stanford University
- Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson
- Cincinnati Art Museum
- Cleveland Museum of Art
- Colby College
- Cooley Art Gallery, Reed College, Portland, Oregon
- Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC
- Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University
- Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University
- Israel Museum, Jerusalem
- The Jewish Museum, New York
- Krannert Art Museum, Univ. of Illinois, Champaign, Ill.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- Minneapolis Institute of Art
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- Museum of Modern Art, New York
- National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
- Rhode Island School of Design
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Seattle Art Museum
- Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
- Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
- Tsukuba Museum of Photography, Japan
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Art Museum
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Yale University Art Gallery
Selected solo exhibitions
- 2015, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
- 2014, Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
- 2013, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
- 2013, MACRO, Museo di Arte Contemporanea, Rome
- 2011, Art Academy of Cincinnati
- 2011, Yale University Art Gallery
- 2011, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
- 2011, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
- 2010, Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
- 2010, Kurenboh, Tokyo
- 2009, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
- 2008, Robert Mann Gallery, New York
- 2008, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
- 2001, Robert Mann Gallery, New York
- 1995, Artists' Loft & Gallery, Galveston, Texas
- 1994, Robert Mann Gallery, New York
- 1994, Cleveland Museum of Art
- 1994, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
- 1993, Seibu Art Forum, Sezon Museum, Tokyo
- 1993, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- 1987, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
- 1984, Philadelphia College of Art
- 1982, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
- 1981, Castelli Uptown Gallery, New York
Selected group exhibitions
- 2015, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
- 2010, Starburst: Color Photography in America, 1970-1980, Cincinnati Museum of Art,
- 2010, Packer Collegiate Institute
- 2010, Princeton University Art Museum
- 2007, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
- 2005, Art & Recovery Conference / Exhibition, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council at Borough of Manhattan
- 2005, Edward Thorp Gallery, New York
- 2005, Gulbenkian Cultural Center, Paris
- 2005, Gallery Chiado 8, Lison
- 2003, Defying Gravity, North Carolina Museum of Art
- 2003, Gallery Amelia, Tokyo
- 2003, Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, Evora, Portugal
- 2002, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
- 2001, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Photography Study Center)
- 2000, Picturing Media, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- 2000, A Prova de Agua, Belem Cultural Center, Lisbon