American, born 1970
Matt Black, an artist from California’s Central Valley, produces enigmatic narrative works in his native region and in related places that are deeply grounded in societal and environmental concerns. Since 2014, Black has traveled over 100,000 miles across 46 states for his project American Geography, a personal portrait of an increasingly divided and unequal America. Black’s gripping images of some of the most marginalized communities in America are as visually captivating as they are brutally honest and human.
A member of Magnum Photos, Matt Black creates work that while rooted in the documentary tradition, is also noted for its deeply personal approach, its emotional engagement, and visual intensity. Excerpts from American Geography have been widely published and exhibited in the United States and internationally. A book of the project will be published in 2021 by Thames and Hudson, to accompany a traveling exhibition that opened at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg in 2020. Other bodies of work include The Dry Land, about the impact of drought on California’s agricultural communities, and The Monster in the Mountains, about the disappearance of 43 students in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero in 2014. Both of these projects, accompanied by short films, were published by The New Yorker.
In addition to the New Yorker, portfolios of Black’s work have appeared in TIME Magazine, The California Sunday Magazine, as well as many international publications such as Le Monde, France and Internazionale, Italy. Black’s Instagram feed The Geography of Poverty, where he experiments conceptually with GeoTagging and other digital documentary approaches, has over 233,000 followers and earned him TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year in 2014. He has been honored three times by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Prize, has been named a senior fellow at the Emerson Collective, and was the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award in 2015 for Humanistic Photography.