Art Sinsabaugh (American 1924-1983), Utah Landscape #8 from American Landscape Group, 1980, Gelatin silver print, 11-3/4 x 19-5/8, Hallmark Photography Collection, Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, © 2003, Katherine Anne Sinsabaugh and Elisabeth Sinsabaugh de la Cova.
Art Sinsabaugh (American, 1924-1983), Chicago Landscape #155 from Chicago Landscape Group, 1965, Gelatin silver print,11-5/8 x 19-1/4", Art Sinsabaugh Archive, Indiana University Art Museum, © 2003, Katherine Anne Sinsabaugh and Elisabeth Sinsabaugh de la Cova.
Jon Pownall (American, died 1973), Art Sinsabaugh on Balcony of Marina City after Making Chicago Landscape #157, 1964, Gelatin silver print, 7-1/4 x 9-3/8", Art Sinsabaugh Archive, Indiana University Art Museum, © Lynda Pownall-Carlson.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Bloch Building Galleries
American Horizons: The Photographs of Art Sinsabaugh
January 26-April 26, 2008
American Horizons: The Photographs of Art Sinsabaugh includes a rare group of 85 photographs by Art Sinsabaugh, highly respected by scholars and collectors, but largely unknown to the general public. The exhibition features images created with a large “banquet” camera that made 12 x 20" detailed negatives.
“At some point I became aware of the unbelievable infinite detail on the horizon; this is what drew my attention. So I set about to pursue the distant horizon,” said Sinsabaugh in an interview before his death in 1983.
Using this awkward camera, which was considered an antique and had been intended for the purpose of taking large indoor group portraits, Sinsabaugh became fascinated by the broad view its lens gave him of the lands. “I enjoy looking at the whole landscape through a camera this size. It gives me the feeling the whole world is mine,” he said.
Sinsabaugh’s prints provide a unique visual experience: they are at once panoramic in format and microscopic in precision. He had an eye for both the sweeping vista and the telling detail and his vision allows us to discover seemingly familiar scenes with entirely new eyes. Sinsabaugh was daring in his cropping of some of his 12x20-inch negatives.None of his Midwest Landscape works are more than five inches high, and some as small as little as one-inch in height — a decision that emphasizes the seemingly infinite expanse of the Midwest landscape Sinsabaugh loved.
Included in the show are two of Sinsabaugh’s most celebrated series — Midwest Landscape Group and Chicago Landscape Group of the 1960s – as well as later works in New England and the Southwest of the 1970s and early 1980s. His Chicago series records one of the nation’s greatest cities in a period of dramatic physical change. Sinsabaugh thought of these city pictures as landscapes; his creative challenge stemmed from his recognition that the city was a fundamentally horizontal (rather than vertical) subject. Sinsabaugh was a landscape photographer in the broadest sense: his photographed the spaces — both rural and urban — that we inhabit.
Sinsabaugh had an important teaching career. In the late 1940s, he was one of the first instructors at the now legendary Institute of Design in Chicago; he went on to found the photography and cinematography department at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The show was organized by the Indiana University Art Museum, which holds the artist’s archive, with Davis acting as guest curator.
Sinsabaugh is an artist ripe for rediscovery and fresh appreciation. “In this retrospective, for the first time, the full range of Sinsabaugh’s work is presented in the finest vintage examples,” Davis said.