Object Lesson: On the Influence of Richard Benson


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Through engaging interviews, testimonials, and anecdotes from photographers, curators, printers, and colleagues, Object Lesson: On the Influence of Richard Benson pays homage to a legendary figure whose name is synonymous with the evolving history and philosophy of photographic reproduction.

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Through engaging interviews, testimonials, and anecdotes from photographers, curators, printers, and colleagues, Object Lesson: On the Influence of Richard Benson pays homage to a legendary figure whose name is synonymous with the evolving history and philosophy of photographic reproduction. From making platinum prints for Paul Strand and books with Lee Friedlander to his own experiments with inkjet and digital offset processes, and as a teacher and dean of the Yale School of Art, by the time of his death in 2017, Benson had inspired over three decades of students and artisans through his mentorship and work. In words and images, Object Lesson stands as a testament to Benson’s wit, wisdom, and incomparable obsession with how photographic images render and connect us to the world. Text, image, and interview contributions by Michele Abeles, Marion Belanger, Barbara Benson, Richard Benson, Dawoud Bey, Andrew Borowiec, Lois Conner, Matthew Connors, Tim Davis, Benjamin Donaldson, Dru Donovan, Martina Droth, Shannon Ebner, Lucas Foglia, Peter Galassi, John Gambell, Jon Goodman, Bryan Graf, Gail Albert Halaban, Gary Haller, Heyward Hart, Robert J. Hennessey, Peter Kayafas, Lisa Kereszi, Justin Kimball, David La Spina, John Lehr, Susan Lipper, Salvatore Lopes, Peter MacGill, Tanya Marcuse, Lesley A. Martin, Miko McGinty, Sue Medlicott, Sarah Meister, Paul Messier, Andrea Modica, Matthew Monteith, Abelardo Morell, Arthur Ou, Thomas Palmer, Tod Papageorge, Ted Partin, Bradley Peters, John Pilson, Kristine Potter, Caitlin Teal Price, Sergio Purtell, Jock Reynolds, John Robinson, Jeff L. Rosenheim, Sasha Rudensky, Gary Schneider, David Benjamin Sherry, Steve Smith, Mark Steinmetz, Sarah Stolfa, Ka-Man Tse, James Welling, and Jeff Whetstone

Format: Hardback
Number of pages: 248
Number of images: 87
Publication date: 2022-08-30
Measurements: 6.5 x 9.5 x 1 inches
ISBN: 9781597114950


“This delightful book illustrates how, through leading questions and seemingly simple steps, Richard Benson encouraged others to think and see with greater agency and nuance—and how deftly he shared his generous sense of humanity’s capacity to better this world.” — Maria Morris Hambourg


John Pilson has exhibited his photo and video work at Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany; the Venice Biennale; Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and MoMA PS1, New York. He is the author of the monograph Interregna (2006) and founder of Picture Magazine. In addition to having taught at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, Pilson has served on the faculty of Yale School of Art since 2001 and is currently senior critic in photography.
Dawoud Bey’s numerous honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. A major career retrospective of his work, An American Project, was co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2020–22). Bey is professor of art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago. His books include Class Pictures (Aperture, 2007), Seeing Deeply (2018), and Street Portraits (2021).
Lois Conner is recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, New York State Council on the Arts Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Publications of her work include China (2000), Beijing: Contemporary and Imperial (2014), and Lotus Leaves (2018). Conner has held teaching positions at Yale School of Art, Princeton University, and Sarah Lawrence College.
Shannon Ebner is an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn. She has held solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and MoMA PS1, New York, among others. Her publications include The Sun as Error (2009), STRIKE (2015), and A Public Character (2016). She is chairperson of photography at Pratt Institute.
Peter Galassi is a scholar, curator, writer, and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 1991 to 2011. During that time, he curated more than forty exhibitions, including The Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Pleasure (1991), Friedlander (2005), and Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century (2010).
Lisa Kereszi has published three monographs of her work: Fantasies (2008), Fun and Games (2009), and Joe’s Junk Yard (2012). In addition to teaching at the Hartford Art School, she is senior critic in photography at Yale School of Art, where she also serves as director of undergraduate studies.
Susan Lipper has published her work in the trilogy of books comprised of Grapevine (1994), trip (1999), and Domesticated Land (2018). She is recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and Guggenheim Fellowship.
Sarah Meister is executive director of Aperture, following more than twenty-five years at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, where she curated numerous exhibitions, including Fotoclubismo: Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946–1964 (2021), Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures (2020), and Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (cocurator, 2017).
Paul Messier is the Pritzker Director of the Lens Media Lab at Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. The LML is dedicated to the material history of photography with a current focus on black-and-white photography of the twentieth century. His Boston-based conservation practice serves institutions and collectors worldwide.
Abelardo Morell has published several books of his work, including A Camera in a Room (1995), A Book of Books (2002), Camera Obscura (2004), Abelardo Morell (2005), Tent-Camera (2018), and Flowers for Lisa (2018). Morell is recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the International Center of Photography Infinity Award in Art. He was professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston from 1983 to 2010 and also served as chair of the department for many years.
Arthur Ou has shown his work widely in group exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, London, Vancouver, Paris, Berlin, and Beijing. His writing has been published in the New York Times, Aperture, Blind Spot, Art in America, Brooklyn Rail, and Camera Austria. He is associate professor of photography in the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design.
Tod Papageorge is recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize in 2009. In 1979, he founded the Department of Photography at Yale School of Art, where he served as the Walker Evans Professor of Photography and as director of graduate studies in photography until 2011. In addition to a collection of essays Core Curriculum (Aperture, 2011), he has published books of his photographic works, including Passing Through Eden (2007), American Sports, 1970 (Aperture, 2009), and Dr. Blankman’s New York (2018).
Thomas Palmer is a photographer, printer, and separator specializing in preparing color and black-and-white images for offset reproduction. He has worked on numerous publications by artists such as Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, and Paul Strand. From 2011 to 2015, Palmer served as a visiting critic in photography at Yale School of Art.
Kristine Potter published her first monograph Manifest and received a Guggenheim Fellowship, both in 2018. In 2019, she was named recipient of the Grand Prix Image Vevey for 2019 and 2020. Potter is an assistant professor of photography at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
Jock Reynolds was Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery from 1998 to 2018. He also previously served as executive director of the Washington Project for the Arts and director of the Addison Gallery of American Art. As an artist, he frequently collaborates with his wife Suzanne Hellmuth. He is recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowships, a Fulbright fellowship, and multiple National Endowment for the Arts awards.
Jeff L. Rosenheim is curator in charge of the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He is the author or coauthor of over twenty books on Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Paul Graham, Stephen Shore, and others. Rosenheim has lectured at Columbia University, Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, Cooper Union, and Bard College.
David Benjamin Sherry currently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York; George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Publications of his work include It’s Time (2010), Earth Changes (2015), American Monuments (2019), and Pink Genesis (Aperture, 2021). In 2020, Sherry joined Yale School of Art as a visiting critic.
Steve Smith is recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and Kittredge grant. His publications include The Weather and a Place to Live: Photographs of the Suburban West (2005) and Your Mountain Is Waiting (2020). He is a longtime professor of photography at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
Sarah Stolfa is founder and director of TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image in Philadelphia (formerly the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center). Her photographs were published in the monograph The Regulars (2009). She is a lecturer at Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ka-Man Tse has exhibited her work in Hong Kong, as well as in group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Tate Museum in London, and Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York. She is recipient of a Robert Giard Fellowship and Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship. Tse is director of the BFA photography program at Parsons School of Design in New York.
James Welling has published over thirty books and catalogues of his work, including Light Sources (1996), Flowers (2007), Glass House (2010), James Welling: Monograph (Aperture, 2013), and Choreograph (Aperture, 2020). Welling was head of the photography area in the Department of Art at University of California, Los Angeles, from 1995 to 2016, and since 2012 has served as professor and lecturer at Princeton University in New Jersey.
Jeff Whetstone is recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a professor and head of photography at Princeton University in New Jersey, where he also serves as director of the Program in Visual Arts.
Miko McGinty has been designing art books since 1993. She founded and directs her own graphic design firm in Brooklyn as principal designer. McGinty has worked with a range of artists, museums, and publishers on publications and exhibitions, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Yale University Art Gallery; Asia Society, Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.