Joe Deal Photography Showing at UA

The UA's Center for Creative Photography recently acquired archives of the late Joe Deal. An exhibition of his work, focused on black and white landscapes, is on display at the center through Aug. 1.
June 29, 2010
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The Center for Creative Photography, part of the University of Arizona Libraries, holds more archives and individual works by 20th-century North American photographers than any other museum in the world.


The archives of more than 60 major American photographers form the core of a collection numbering more than 90,000 works.

The work of Joe Deal, who died in June, is on display at the UA's Center for Creative Photography. Deal's Flint Hills, 2005 is among the pieces being shown.
The work of Joe Deal, who died in June, is on display at the UA's Center for Creative Photography. Deal's Flint Hills, 2005 is among the pieces being shown.

The work of the late Joe Deal, who defined his artistic career with black and white photographs of the American landscape, is on display at the University of Arizona.

Deal died June 18 at the age of 62.

In 2009, the UA's Center for Creative Photography acquired the Joe Deal Archive, a collection of photographic prints that surveys his career and archival materials that document his work as a photographer and instructor.

Now, the center is showcasing what was Deal’s most recent series of photographs, "West and West," which serves as a meditation on landscape and history.

The exhibition opened in June at the UA center, located in the Fine Arts Complex at 1030 N. Olive Road. The exhibition will remain open through Aug. 1 and is free and open to the public. 

Britt Salvesen, formerly the center’s director and chief curator, worked with Deal to bring his archive to the UA last year. 

"Joe Deal was both intellectual and empathetic. His respect for the natural world contained a respect for those who had granted it consideration before him," said Salvesen, now department head and curator of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

"Thinking through photography, he has enriched the legacy of American art and culture," Salvesen added.

One of 10 photographers included in the renowned 1975 George Eastman House exhibition, "New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape," Deal’s photography helped define how artists presented the built environment through the lens. 

Deal's "West and West: Reimagining the Great Plains" was shown in Providence, R.I., and in New York City. A monograph of the same title published by the Center for American Studies accompanies the UA exhibition.

Deal's additional contributions to the field as an educator and academic administrator extended the reach of his influence.

Deal was born in Topeka, Kan., and received a bachelor of fine arts degree in design from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1970.

His photographic studies began at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he graduated with a master's degree in photography in 1974 and continued with a master of fine arts in photography in 1978.

Preceding both periods of study in New Mexico, Deal worked at the George Eastman House, in Rochester, N.Y.

It was there that he met William Jenkins, then assistant curator. As the two men became friends, they began a conversation that would ultimately lead to the pivotal 1975 exhibition, "New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape." 

Deal’s key role in the exhibition, with his 18 untitled views of recently built homes situated within the Albuquerque desert, is well-established. However, his crucial role as adviser to Jenkins and contribution to the exhibition and catalog designs has been recently underscored with newly published research on the 1975 exhibition. 

The exhibition has been recreated by Salvesen and Alison Nordström, curator at George Eastman House. Since the 1975 exhibition, Deal’s photographs have appeared in numerous exhibitions throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.