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Celebrating Richard Benson


February 1–March 24, 2018

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY

Installation Views

Selected Works

New York – Pace/MacGill Gallery is honored to present a celebration of the remarkable life of American photographer, master printer, author, and educator Richard "Chip" Benson (1943–2017). Featuring a selection of photographs printed in various processes, publications, and personal projects, the exhibition offers an intimate look at Benson's unparalleled contributions to the photographic medium and the world at large. Celebrating Richard Benson will be on view from February 1 through March 24, 2018, with an opening reception on Thursday, February 1 from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

A Newport, Rhode Island native, MacArthur Fellow, and two-time Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, Richard Benson revolutionized the field of photography. His study of optical repair while stationed on a Naval ship in Norfolk, Virginia, followed by an apprenticeship at the renowned Connecticut printing firm Meriden Gravure Company in the mid-1960s, promoted a passionate, lifelong pursuit of the medium in its myriad forms.

As a pioneer in printing, Benson worked in a range of media, producing silver, platinum, and offset prints of his own imagery, as well as limited-edition portfolios for such leading photographers as Walker Evans, Alfred Stieglitz, and Paul Strand. He invented a method of printing photographic negatives in acrylic paint on light-sensitized sheets of aluminum and, following his embrace of digital photography in the early 1990s, configured a commonly available Epson inkjet printer to print a single color image in three or more successive stages. This customized, multiple-impression process offered extreme control over tonality and hue, yielding pictures with extraordinary visual clarity, precision, and depth. In one of his ultimate projects, Recent Work, 2014 – called "the contraption" by its creator – Benson denounced printing entirely by displaying his images on a 4K monitor through a self-written computer program.

Benson was also instrumental in transforming the technologies and standards for photographic reproduction in ink through such noted publications as The Face of Lincoln (1979), The Work of Atget (4 volumes, 1981-85), over a dozen Lee Friedlander monographs, and Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company (1985) – a five-year, 200-picture project often regarded as the finest book of photographic reproductions ever published. He was the co-author of Lay This Laurel with Lincoln Kirstein (1973) and A Maritime Album: 100 Photographs and Their Stories with John Szarkowski (1997), and authored A Yale Album: The Third Century (2000), The Printed Picture (2008), and Richard Benson: North South East West (2011).

From clocks and steam engines to taxonomy and postage stamps, Benson applied his insatiably inquisitive intellect and mechanical ingenuity to projects beyond the realm of photography. One of his final creations, Clock #15, will be displayed as a prime example of his continual quest for comprehension through execution. Lacking both the hands and face of a typical timepiece, #15 boasts a construction that can always be upgraded and, consequently, never be completed – although Benson was known to consider his clocks finished when accurate within a second, a month, or a year.

Benson joined Yale University’s Department of Photography in 1979 and served as Dean of its School of Art from 1996 until his retirement in 2006. His photographs are held in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; The Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; as well as numerous private collections.

For more information about Celebrating Richard Benson or press requests, please contact Margaret Kelly at 212.759.7999 or For general inquiries, please email

One of the world's leading photography galleries, Pace/MacGill has been dedicated to advancing fine art photography for over 30 years. Known for discovering artists, representing masters, and placing important collections and archives into major public institutions, Pace/MacGill has presented some 200 exhibitions and published numerous catalogues on modern and contemporary photography. Founded in 1983 by Peter MacGill, in collaboration with Arne Glimcher of Pace and Richard Solomon of Pace Editions, Pace/MacGill is located at 32 East 57th Street in New York City.

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