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"Even when the landscape is greatly disfigured or brutalized, it is always deeply animated from within. When one really sees an awesome, vast, and terrible place, we tremble at the feeling we experience as our sense of wholeness is reorganized by what we see... This is the gift of a landscape photograph, that the heart finds a place to stand."
-Emmet Gowin, April 1994

Emmet Gowin is one of Bucks County’s most distinguished and well known photographers. His work is often described as poetic, personal, and evocative and has become widely sought after for both public and private collections. Gowin’s early work, begun while still in graduate school, was focused on his wife’s large and closely knit family located in Danville, Virginia. With four generations of the family living side by side and welcoming Gowin to explore their world, the young artist was granted access to an intimate and otherwise private place where he felt free to investigate themes of family and community through his photography.

In 1980, Gowin’s work expanded to include aerial photographs of the devastation caused by the Mount St. Helens eruption in Washington. His initial project evolved into a passion for aerial photography and he has since photographed locations such as Kuwait, Japan, and the Czech Republic. Differing from typical aerial photographers, Gowin does not set out to convey a clear message with his work. Instead, his photographs are intentionally ambiguous, representing a landscape while simultaneously abstracting it beyond immediate recognition.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art organized a major traveling retrospective of Gowin’s work in 1990, which was followed by another traveling retrospective organized by the Yale University Art Gallery in 2002. Further exhibitions of Gowin’s work have been held at a number of other institutions including the Princeton University Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Pace/MacGill Gallery, and the Michener Art Museum.

Education & Community

Education and Training
B.A. in Graphic Design, Richmond Professional Institute, Virginia, 1965
M.F.A. in Photography, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, 1967

Teachers and Influences
Taught by Harry Callahan at the Rhode Island School of Design
Influenced by Frederick Sommer, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Ansel Adams

Connection to Bucks County
Gowin came to Bucks County in 1971 and taught for several years at the Bucks County Community College. He presently lives in Newtown.

Colleagues and Affiliations
Bruce Katsiff, Michael A. Smith, and Steven Perloff
Emmet Gowin's son, Elijah, is also an accomplished photographer.


Major Solo Exhibitions
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio, 1968
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1969
Museum of Modern Art, with Robert Adams, New York, New York, 1971
MIT Creative Photography Gallery, 1971, 1979
Light Gallery, New York, New York, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1982
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1971, 1973, 1983
Fotogalerie Lichtropfen, Aachen, Germany, 1975
Ohio Silver Galler, Losa Angeles, California, 1975
Susan Spiritus Gallery, Newport Beach, California, 1977, 1979
Washington Gallery of Photography, Washington, D.C., 1977
Photographers Gallery, South Yarra, Australia, 1978
Photography Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1981
A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1983
Nexus, Atlanta, Georgia, 1983
Northlight Gallery, Tempe, Arizona, 1983
Photo Gallery International, Tokyo, Japan, 1989, 1993
Espace Photographique Marie de Paris, Paris, France, 1992
Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, New York, 1986, 1989, 1994
Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth, Aerial Photographs, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2004

Major Group Exhibitions
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Connecticut
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Art Gene: Emmet and Elijah Gowin, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2000
Objects of Desire: Treasures from Private Collections, Michener Art Museum, New Hope, Pennsylvania, September 16, 2005-January 15, 2006
Art Speaks: Celebrating the Bucks County Intermediate Unit Collection, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2011
Facing Out, Facing In: Figurative Works from the Michener Art Museum Collection, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2011
Parting Gifts: Artists Honor Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO, 1989-2012, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2012

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tokyo Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan

Emmet Gowin: Photographs, 1966-1983
Emmet Gowin: Photographs, 1976
, Alfred A. Knopf
Petra: On the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
, Pace/MacGill, 1986
Emmet Gowin Photographs 1990
, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth
, Aerial Photographs, Yale University Art Gallery in association with the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Yale University Press, 1994

Awards & Appointments

Virginia Museum Fine Arts Fellowship, 1964
Guggenheim Fellowship (travel to South America), 1974
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1977, 1979
Seattle Arts Commission Grant, 1980
Hazlett Memorial Award for Excellence in the Arts in Pennsylvania, 1983
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts, 1983
Bucks County Art Award, 1984
Pew Charitable Trust Artist Fellowship, 1995

Teaching and Professional Appointments
Instructor, Dayton Art Institute, Ohio, 1967-1971
Instructor, Bucks County Community College, 1971-1973
Professor of Photography, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1973-2009 First person to receive a PhD in Photography, Princeton University, New Jersey
First Photography Department Chair, Princeton University, New Jersey
Plus, local lectures on aesthetic principles

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