American, born 1932
Kenneth Josephson is recognized as an early and influential American practitioner of conceptual photography and is known for his photographs that famously layer pictures within pictures, focusing on the act of picture making and offering playful commentary on photographic truth and illusion. His experiments require the viewer to consider the act of photography and convey the artist’s desire to question the medium and reject the illusion of realism. As an example, through the use of hand-held measuring devices, Josephson constructs parodies of pseudoscientific inquiry, ultimately challenging the use of photography as the ultimate measuring device of “reality.” In Josephson’s photographs it is the photograph itself that assures us that we should question the veracity of the medium.
Kenneth Josephson was born in Detroit, Michigan. He earned a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1957, where he studied under Minor White. In 1960, he earned an MS from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, where he studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Josephson was a professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1967 to 1997, and a founding member of the Society for Photographic Education. He is the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship (1972) and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships (1975 and 1979). In 1999 The Art Institute of Chicago, and subsequently in 2001 the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, featured retrospective exhibitions of Josephson’s work, which included a monograph. His work is in the collections of numerous institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Art Institute of Chicago; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C; Bibliothèque National de France, Paris; and Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm, among others. His monographs include, Kenneth Josephson: A Retrospective (Art Institute of Chicago, 1999), Kenneth Josephson: Selected Photographs (Only Photographs, 2013), and Kenneth Josephson: The Light of Coincidence (University of Texas Press, 2016).