Lynn Davis (photographer)

Lynn Davis (photographer)

Lynn Davis is an American photographer known for her large scale black and white photographs which are widely collected publicly and privately and are internationally exhibited.


Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1944 she studied at University of Colorado between 1962 - 1964, and at the University of Minnesota from 1964 – 1966. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1970, and in 1974 she began her career as an apprentice to Berenice Abbott. [ [ Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza hosts Lynn Davis' ~ Iceberg and Ancient Persia | Art Knowledge News ] ]

Davis' first exhibition hung at the International Center of Photography (New York) in 1979, alongside her close friend Robert Mapplethorpe. After her first trip to Greenland in 1986 she gave up photographing the human form, shifting her lens toward the monumental landscapes and cultural/architectural icons for which she is renowned.

Lynn Davis is represented by the [ Edwynn Houk Gallery] in New York. She lives in Hudson, New York with her husband, writer Rudy Wurlitzer.


Best know for her large-scale black and white landscapes and photographs of "monuments of the human and natural landscape”, perhaps the most noteworthy characteristic of her work is its striking tonality; with strong grays, subdued whites and blacks, or often, gold and selenium. The genius of her sparse composition and controlled modeling of light produce a restrained majesty. Her obvious respect for her subject matter is evident not only in her celebrated architectural photos, but in her portrait work as well. Her best-known work was exposed during her travels to Egypt, Australia, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen, Lebanon, and Greenland. Under grant from the Lannan Foundation she undertook an ongoing project to photograph various sites in the United States.

Much of her work is done with vintage cameras like the "ancient Rolleiflex" with which she records monuments in Thailand and Cambodia. Her husband (Rudy Wurlitzer) records this experience during a trip to Thailand in his book "Hard Travel to Sacred Places":

On the way back to the van, Lynn says that all morning her camera was on the edge of malfunctioning and that several times she thought the shutter had broken. It was opening on the rewind, which meant that everything would be overexposed. [...] She uses an ancient Rolleiflex and has left her backup camera in New York. [...] "It was strange," Lynn says with a faraway smile. "When it broke, I just stopped and completely gave up. I was ready to never take another picture. And then the shutter just started to work again." [Wurlitzer, R: "Hard Travel to Sacred Places," Boston & London: Shambala, 1994]

Her meticulous work in the darkroom, a blend of science and art, is also responsible for the majestic tone of her work. Jonathon Bailey, in an article for "Camera Arts", listed her among a small group of photographers employing split-toning to its fullest.

I think it’s safe to suggest that all the photographers today who use some form of split-toning in their work seem intimately connected to photography’s past in some uniquely personal way. Each of these photographers seems to intuitively comprehend how the photographic process ultimately impacts the image’s emotional impact. I believe this aesthetic understanding flows directly out of a 19th century sensibility. [Split-Toning: Background and Historical Antecedents, Camera Arts, December 2000/January 2001]

He attributed this, in part, to the unique and rich composition of her prints.

Her prints appear in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. In 1999 the J. Paul Getty Museum held an exhibition of Davis' prints, and a solo show, "Africa", was held at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson in 1999.


Books showcasing Davis' work include:

* "Illumination," New York: DK Adult, 2007 (Monograph, with text by: Pico Iyer)
* "Persia," Paris: Galerie Karsten Greve, 2006 (Exhibition Catalog)
* " [ Water] ," New York: Edwynn Houk Gallery, 2005 (Exhibition Catalog)
* "American Monument," New York: Monacelli Press, 2004 (Monograph, with text by: Witold Rybczynski)
* " [ Ice] ," New York: Edwynn Houk Gallery, 2001 (Exhibition Catalog)
* " [ Lynn Davis] ," New York: Edwynn Houk Gallery, 2000 (Exhibition Catalog)
* "Monument," Santa Fe: Arena Editions, 1999 (Monograph with text by: Patti Smith & Rudolph Wurlitzer)
* "Bodywork: 1978-1985," Kilchberg/Zurich: Edition Stemmle, 1994 (Monograph)

* " [ In Response to Place: Phototgraphs from the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places] ," Washington D.C.: The Nature Conservancy (pages 80-89, also includes works by photographers: Lee Friedlander, Annie Leibovitz, Sally Mann and Mary Ellen Mark, among others)
* "Wonders of the African World" (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; New York: Knopf, Fall 1999)

Her work also appears in the following publications (non-comprehensive list):

* "El Silencio," pages 70-78 (Matador, Issue K, 2008)
* "An Eye for the Sacred," pages 56-63, 94 and 97 (Shambhala Sun, January 2008)
* "An Artist’s Portrayal of China, " page 31 (Northeast Antique & Auction, 2003)
* "The Questing Eye," pages 74-77 (House & Garden, 2003)
* "Abitareverona Magazine, " No. 3 (2002)
* "Along the Silk Route," pages 51-57 (Portfolio: China, Shambhala Sun, September 2002)
* "Reportage dal Mondo dei Sogni," page 53 (Denis Curti; Vivi Milano, Belle Arti, September 2002)
* "Linee di Ghiaccio" (Tempo Libero, September 2002)
* "John Kane: Gehlek Rinpoche Likes It That Way," pages 45-50 (Shambhala Sun, July 2002)
* "Ice Memory," pages 30-37 (Elizabeth Kolbert; New Yorker, January 2002)
* "Les Line," page 124 (Audubon, March-April 2002)
* "Dal Sudan alla Groenlandia a Caccia di Architetture Naturale," page 9 (Francesca Memeo; La Stampa, 2002)
* "Body Icons," page 32 (Athens, Greece, Photographic Center of Skopelos, 1998)
* "Aperture, Moments of Grace Spirit in the American Landscape," page 3 (New York, Aperture (magazine), 1998)
* "Sea Change: The Seascape in Contemporary Photography," page 25 (James Hamilton-Peterson and Trudy Wilner Stack; Tucson, AZ: Center for Creative Photography, 1998)
* "Water Proof" (Lisbon, Portugal : Centro Cultural de Belém, 1998)


* Academy Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters [ [ American Academy of Arts and Letters - 2005 Art Awards Press Release ] ]
* Creative Artist Public Service Program Grant [ [ Lynn Davis on artnet ] ]


External links

* [ Lynn Davis Photography]
* [ Edwynn Houk Gallery]

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