Beautiful and surreal, funny and provocative, the photographs of Jerry Uelsmann are icons of American photography history. The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) will present the first retrospective of Uelsmann’s work in more than 30 years February 11⁍ay 13. “The Mind’s Eye: 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann” features 90 works spanning the artist’s celebrated and wide-ranging career, with well-known works shown alongside never-before-seen recent images.
As a pioneer of contemporary photography and master of experimental darkroom technique, Uelsmann has continuously pushed the creative and technical boundaries of photography, revealing new visual possibilities and critical considerations for the medium. In the late 1950s, Uelsmann began experimenting with multiple enlargers and advanced techniques, to create imaginary images in the darkroom decades before the advent of Photoshop.
Uelsmann’s ingenious work references Surrealists like Rene Magritte, Max Ernst and Man Ray, as well as Modern photographers such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. He has spent his career advocating for the acceptance of experimental photography as an art form.
“The Mind’s Eye” presents works drawn from the artist’s personal archive of vintage materials. In addition to photographic prints, it includes a selection of three-dimensional photographic sculptures, films, artist’s books, albums and work prints to give viewers first-hand insight into Uelsmann’s creative process and expressive range.
Born in Detroit in 1934, Uelsmann received a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1957 and MS and MFA degrees from Indiana University in 1960. He is recently retired from the faculty of the University of Florida, which he joined in 1960. Uelsmann received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1967 he had his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Peabody Essex Museum is at East India Square. For information, 866-745-1876 or www.pem.org .