Peter Bunnell

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Peter C. Bunnell (born 1937) is an American author, scholar and historian of photography. For more than 40 years he has had a significant impact on collecting, exhibiting, teaching and practicing photography through his work as a university professor, museum curator and prolific author.

Life and career[edit]

Bunnell was born in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1937. He received an undergraduate degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he studied with photographer Minor White, and an M.F.A. from Ohio University, where he studied with Clarence H. White, Jr., the son of the pictorial photographer Clarence Hudson White. He then went on to receive an M.A. degree in art history from Yale University, and later become an associate in the Alfred Stieglitz Archive at the university.

In 1970 Bunnell was named the Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Two years later he was invited to teach at Princeton University and was given the position of David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art. This was the first endowed professorship in the history of photography in the United States.[1] That same year he curated a show at the museum called “Photography into Sculpture”, the first comprehensive survey of photographically formed images used in a sculptural manner. The show has been called “one of the great contributions to the history of photography.” [2] due to its intent to redefine photography in a new spatial concept.

From 1973 to 1978 Bunnell was also the Director of the Princeton University Art Museum, where he helped build the collection of photographic holdings into “one of the great North American teaching collections.”[3]

In 1979 he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship for further study of the history of photography. Bunnell received a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council in 1984 that enabled him to travel and lecture extensively in Japan. He returned briefly to Japan in 1995 as a consultant to the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Since then he has taught at New York University, Dartmouth College and Yale University.[4]

In 2002, Bunnell retired from his post at Princeton. That same year the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of postage stamps called ‘’Masters of American Photography’’ featuring photographers and images selected by Bunnell.[1]

In 2011, Princeton University announced the endowment of the Peter C. Bunnell Curatorship in Photography.


  • Jerry N. Uelsmann: An Aperture Monograph (1970)
  • Barbara Morgan (1972)
  • Nonsilver Printing Processes: Four Selections 1886-1927 (1973) ISBN 0405049528
  • Harry Callahan (1978) ISBN 0847802019
  • Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (1981) ISBN 978-0933286238
  • Edward Weston on Photography (1983) ISBN 0879051477
  • Clarence H. White: The Reverence for Beauty (1986) ISBN 978-0933041011
  • Minor White: The Eye That Shapes (1989) ISBN 978-0943012094
  • A Photographic Vision: Pictorial Photography 1889-1923 (1980) ISBN 978-0879050597
  • Emmet Gowin: Photographs 1966-1983 (1983)
  • EW:100. Centennial Essays in Honor of Edward Weston (1986) ISBN 978-0933286443
  • Light Years: The Friends of Photography 1967-1985 (1987) ISBN 978-0933286481
  • Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs from the Collection of Georgia O’Keeffe (1993) ISBN
  • Degrees of Guidance: Essays on Twentieth-Century American Photography (1993) ISBN 978-0521327510
  • Ruth Bernhard: The Collection of Ginny Williams (1993) ISBN 978-1881138044
  • Photography at Princeton: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of Collecting and Teaching the History of Photography (1998) ISBN 978-0943012261
  • Edward Ranney Photographs: The John B. Elliott Collection (2003) ISBN 978-0943012391
  • Michael Kenna: A Twenty Year Retrospective (2003) ISBN 978-1590050194
  • Inside the Photograph: Writings on Twentieth-Century Photography (2006) ISBN 978-1597110211
  • Eye Mind Spirit: The Enduring Legacy of Minor White (2009) ISBN 0974886300
  • Walter Chappell: Eternal Impermanence (2013) ISBN 8857218724


  1. ^ a b "Princeton University Department of Art and Archeology: Peter C. Bunnell". Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  2. ^ "Hauser & Wirth to Display Peter Bunnell Photography Exhibition 6/26". Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  3. ^ Wong, Michael. "The Bunnell Decades". Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  4. ^ Bunnell, Peter (1998). Photography at Princeton: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of Collecting & Teaching the History of Photography. Princeton University Art Museum. p. 7. ISBN 9780943012261.