"You take a canvas, divide it up like a checkerboard... and go from there." - Man Ray

Ralph Gibson: Photographer/Book Artist
Ralph Gibson: Photographer/Book Artist
About the film
  • Year
  • Categories
  • Duration 28 minutes
  • Producer Edgar Howard
  • Director Paula Heredia

For more than forty years, Ralph Gibson has served as one of the few truly independent forces within the field of photography.

His unique graphic style — stark, erotic, chaste, allusive, surreal — is as unmistakable as it is influential. His many-published books have shown generations of photographers in the U.S. and Europe that the bound-printed page can be as powerful a strategy for artistic success as the gallery exhibition.

In this film biography, Gibson is very much the star of his own life as he discusses his colorful childhood in Los Angeles as an extra in Hollywood movies, his stints in the U.S. Navy, his time as an assistant to Dorothea Lange, as well as his lean, wayward years in New York.

Friends and admirers, including Mary Ellen Mark and Larry Clark, analyze the impact of his early work, especially his first landmark book SOMNAMBULIST (1970) on the photography scene at the time. Commentary by Eric Fischl, April Gornik, and Bryan Hunt reinforces the echoing importance of Gibson’s work beyond the shores of photography.

Best of all, Gibson is forthcoming about the process of his own thinking at every stage: why and how he shoots, and what he shoots; the editorial decisions that dictate the laying-out and putting-together of spreads in a book; the role of his various muses; and the crucial point at which he knows if a body of work is or is not complete.

Rich in insights into the history of Gibson’s vast and diverse oeuvre, this biography is also a master class with a world-class photographer.

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