Lee Friedlander, Richard Benson, Newport, Rhode Island
Very sorry to learn this morning of the death of the fine printmaker and the expert on the reproduction of pictures Richard Benson, who died either on June 22nd (Wikipedia) or 23rd (Artforum). A fine printmaker for many years, master of many processes and involved in many fine books and exhibitions, Richard Benson was a polymath of the subject, recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant and the subject of a profile (in the Dec. 17 1990 issue) in The New Yorker.
He served as Dean of the Yale School of Art (long an incubator for photographers—Walker Evans once taught there) for the decade from 1996 to 2006. In 2008 he co-curated the exhibit "The Printed Picture" at the Museum of Modern Art, which, as Artforum said, "traced the changing technology of making and distributing pictures from the Renaissance to the present." The book that resulted from that show, also called The Printed Picture, was our Book of the Year that year and has given me much pleasure since. It's our best single connection to his far-flung and far-reaching career.
I didn't know him but I'm aware that he was well connected in the New England and East Coast photography worlds and that he had many friends. Surely an obituary will be forthcoming from the Times, which I will try to alert you to when it appears. Our condolences to his friends, family, and loved ones.
(Thanks to Robert Newcomb)
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TOP/Yale Spring Photo Book Offer
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
John Holland: "By a strange coincidence, I'd been thinking a lot about Richard Benson the last couple of weeks, prompted by my purchase of your Yale book sale. Benson himself appears in several photographs in the two Friedlander books (he's well regarded in the biz as the printer for many of Friedlander's best books); Benson first made his name as a darkroom and book printer for Paul Strand; and, to bring things full circle, Benson's apprentice, Thomas Palmer, did the plates for the Friedlander books.
"Going through the Yale books prompted me to re-read The Printed Picture, which was probably the first book I ever bought as a TOP recommendation. Then I re-watched the video series Benson did for MoMA back in 2009, available here. Just finished that on Saturday. Now I learn that he passed.
"The Yale book sale now feels to be a bit of an inadvertent but timely tribute to Richard's long career, especially to the many ways he improved the printing of photographs in books, reflected in the superb quality of these three. Such a talented, smart and vital person. Condolences to his family and many, many friends."
Mark Sampson: "I only met Chip Benson once, about seven years ago at a non-photographic gathering. I knew of him through books about Paul Strand, as well as the MoMA exhibit of 'The Printed Picture.' He was great company and was pleased to see me using a view camera. I wish I'd had the chance to know him better—he was one of the best of us."