Ralph Gibson

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This article is about the photographer. For the fighter pilot, see Ralph Gibson (fighter pilot). For the Australian communist activist, see Ralph Gibson (political activist).
Ralph Gibson
Ralph Gibson August 2015.JPG
Born (1939-01-16) January 16, 1939 (age 76)
Los Angeles, California
Nationality American
Known for Photography
Spouse(s) Mary Jane Marcasiano
Awards Guggenheim Fellowship
Website ralphgibson.com

Ralph Gibson (born January 16, 1939) is an American art photographer[1] best known for his photographic books. His images often incorporate fragments with erotic and mysterious undertones, building narrative meaning through contextualization and surreal juxtaposition.

Early life and education[edit]

Gibson enlisted in the United States Navy in 1956 and became a Photographers Mate studying photography until 1960. Gibson then continued his photography studies at the San Francisco Art Institute between 1960 - 1962. He began his professional career as an assistant to Dorothea Lange from 1961 to 1962 and went on to work with Robert Frank on two films.


Gibson has maintained a lifelong fascination with books and book-making. Since the appearance in 1970 of THE SOMNAMBULIST, his work has been steadily impelled towards the printed page. In 1969 Gibson moved to New York, where he formed Lustrum Press in order to exert control over the reproduction of his work.[2] Lustrum Press also published Larry Clark's Tulsa (1971).[3] To date he has produced over 40 monographs, current projects being State of the Axe published by Yale University Press in Fall of 2008 and NUDE by Taschen (2009). His photographs are included in over one hundred and fifty museum collections around the world, and have appeared in hundreds of exhibitions. He has worked exclusively with the Leica for almost 50 years.

Asked by the New York Times for his main sources of inspiration, Gibson recommended what he considered to be five seminal works: Eugene Atget's Vision of Paris, Walker Evans's American Photographs, Henri Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment, Robert Frank's Americans and Alexey Brodovitch's Ballet.[4]

Commissioned by Italian luxury label Bottega Veneta, Gibson photographed models Raquel Zimmermann and Mathias Lauridsen on locations in Milan for the brand's fall/winter 2013 advertisements.[5]


Gibson's work is included in important collections including the Museum of Modern Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the International Center of Photography; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, among many others.[6]


Gibson has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973, 1975, 1986), a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Berlin (1977), the New York State Council on the Arts (C.A.P.S.) (1977), and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1985).

The Rencontres d'Arles festival presented his work in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1989 and 1994. His book "Syntax" received a mention for the Rencontres d'Arles Book Award in 1983. He was decorated as an Officier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1986) and appointed Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2005) by the French government.

His awards include: Leica Medal of Excellence Award (1988), "150 Years of Photography" Award, Photographic Society of Japan (1989), a Grande Medaille de la Ville d'Arles (1994) and the Lucie Award for lifetime achievement in Fine Art (2007).[7]

Gibson also received an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Maryland (1991), and a second honorary doctorate from the Ohio Wesleyan University (1998).

Selected publications[edit]

Gibson has published several books:

Gibson's Hand Through a Doorway was used on the inner sleeve of the 1979 album Unknown Pleasures by UK rock band Joy Division.

Personal life[edit]

Gibson currently lives in New York with his wife, fashion designer Mary Jane Marcasiano and travels frequently to Europe and Brazil.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Photographers on Seeing: Ralph Gibson". Popular Photography. April 1981. p. 86. 
  2. ^ Ralph Gibson Etherton Gallery, Tucson, Arizona.
  3. ^ Andy Grundberg (April 10, 1983), Photography View; Why Some Art Retains Its Emotional Impact New York Times.
  4. ^ John Durniak (July 21, 1985), Photography Books That Instruct And Inspire New York Times.
  5. ^ Kerry Pieri (July 22, 2013), Exclusive: Watch Bottega Veneta's Ralph Gibson Lensed Fall Campaign Film Harper's Bazaar.
  6. ^ Ralph Gibson Etherton Gallery, Tucson, Arizona.
  7. ^ "ralph gibson". Lucie Foundation. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  8. ^ Buck, Joan Juliet (December 10, 2010). "Full House". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 

External links[edit]