top of page

Emmet Gowin: Here on Earth Now – Notes from the Field


September 28, 2017–January 26, 2018

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

Installation Views

Selected Works

Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present Here on Earth Now – Notes from the Field, a selection of photographs from Emmet Gowin's nearly 20-year exploration of the tropical environment. Featuring forest landscapes, portraits of his wife, Edith, and typological studies of nocturnal moths executed as unique salt and digital inkjet prints, the exhibition marks Gowin's 11th show at the gallery and is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue. Here on Earth Now – Notes from the Field will be on view from September 28, 2017 through January 26, 2018, with an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, September 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

For six decades, Emmet Gowin has contemplated humanity's relationship to the natural world with visual wonderment. His pictures have evolved from intimate portraits of his Virginia family, to aerial vistas of volcanic devastation and nuclear test sites, to scientific surveys of tropical ecosystems and their dependent biodiversity. Though varied, Gowin's subjects remain united by a celebration of place and are permeated by the enduring presence — whether literal or figurative — of his wife and muse, Edith. The featured images are therefore a natural continuation of his earlier work, Mariposas Nocturnas – Edith in Panama, presented by Pace/MacGill as both an exhibition and catalogue in 2006, as well as a companion to Gowin's recent monograph, Mariposas Nocturnas: Moths of Central and South America, A Study in Beauty and Diversity, published by Princeton University Press this fall.

Inspired by the literature of 19th-century naturalists like J. Henri Fabre and Alfred Russel Wallace, Gowin has been engaged in an extensive photographic portrait of the mariposas nocturnas or nocturnal moths of Central and South America for over 15 years. Seeking to create a work of art that honored the richness of species and complexity of the tropics, he traveled to Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, and Panama to carefully catalogue the inherent beauty of over 1,000 insects. The moths — presented in typological grids of 25 — are photographed fully alive, in innate positions and postures, against visually resonant backgrounds drawn from art historical imagery and the natural world. Once again, Gowin's work fosters awareness of, and perhaps even affection for, the splendor found in the often overlooked elements of our environment. Gowin writes: "Over time, I have begun to see the moth as a living wonder: visually stunning, endlessly varied, mysterious, sometimes useful, sometimes destructive, hard working, biologically inventive, and nothing less than a miracle ... real beauty, here on Earth now, and, of course, impossible without the forest."

Emmet Gowin (b. 1941, Danville, Va.) received a BFA in Graphic Design from the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) in 1965 and an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967. He served on the faculty of Princeton University as a professor of photography in the Visual Arts Program from 1973 until his retirement in 2009, and is the recipient of numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1974), two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1977, 1979), a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (1993), the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University (1997), and the Princeton Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities (2006).

For over four decades, Gowin's photography has been the subject of exhibitions worldwide at venues such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1971); the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1983); the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1990); the Espace Photographie Marie de Paris (1992); the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (2002); the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City (2003); the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge (2004); the Princeton University Art Museum (2009); FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE, Madrid (2013); and The Morgan Library, New York (2015). His work is represented in institutional collections around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Tokyo Museum of Art, among others.

Monographs include: Emmet Gowin: Photographs (1976, 2009); Emmet Gowin: Photographs, 1966-1983 (1983); Petra (1986); Emmet Gowin/Photographs: This vegetable Earth is but a shadow (1990); Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth (2002); Mariposas Nocturnas – Edith in Panama (2006), Emmet Gowin (2013), Hidden Likeness: Emmet Gowin at the Morgan (2015), and Mariposas Nocturnas: Moths of Central and South America, A Study in Beauty and Diversity (2017).

For more information about Emmet Gowin: Here on Earth Now - Notes from the Field or press requests, please contact Margaret Kelly at 212.759.7999 or For general inquiries, please email

bottom of page