Biography

Kenneth Josephson(1932  ), born in Detroit, was among the first generation of photographers to graduate with a degree in photography from the  now fabled Institute of Design, Chicago, where he studied with Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan.  Josephson began photographing as an adolescent after being introduced to the medium by a friend who had a darkroom.  Josephson bought a Crown Graphic 4×5 in 1946.  After graduating high school in 1950, he worked as a darkroom assistant in a portrait studio and as a messenger for the photography lab at General Motors. Within a year he was studying commercial photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  In the spring of 1953, he received an associate in applied sciences certificate from R.I.T.  Shortly thereafter he was drafted into the army, where he printed aerial reconnaissance photographs for use in intelligence and map-making. In 1955 Josephson returned to R.I.T. to study photography history with Beaumont Newhall, and Minor White, from whom he learned the Zone System.  By the fall of 1958, Josephson was attending the Institute of Design, and in the spring of 1960 he received his Master of Science degree from I.D. with his thesis project entitled, “Exploration of the Multiple Image.”  In the fall of that same year he began his teaching career at the School of the Art Institute.  

In 1963 Josephson became a founding member of the Society for Photographic Education, and in 1964, John Szarkowski includes the artist in a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern art, New York.  “The Photographer’s Eye” traveled internationally to forty venues from 1964 to 1972. Over the next decades, Josephson traveled the globe and  worked on a large number of projects, unified by continuous experimentation, creative use of humor and impeccable printing.   In 1997 Josephson retired from teaching.  In 1999-2000, “Kenneth Josephson: A Retrospective”  – a career-embracing exhibition, accompanied by a catalogue, originated at the Art Institute and traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York.  Josephson has taken part in numerous exhibitions and his works are in almost every major American museum as well as countless private collections. In 2014, Kenneth Josephson: Selected Photographs, was published by the German-based Only Photography.  Josephson lives in Chicago where he continues to produce work in the classic silver print tradition.

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