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John Hill

John Hill

American, born 1934

John T. Hill was born in Jackson County Georgia in 1934. He began his early studies with plans of becoming a painter but shifted his attention to design and photography. He is recognized for his work and teaching in both fields. Hill earned a BFA in Design in 1955 from the University of Georgia and and MFA in painting from the school in 1956. He served in the United States military before continuing graduate studies in design and photography at the Yale School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut.

After graduating from Yale, he was invited to join the faculty and taught both graphic design and photography for twenty years. Photography had been an integral part Yale’s Graphic Design Department from its beginning in 1951. Twenty years later, with photography’s increased presence in the arts, Alvin Eisenman and Hill founded Yale’s first Department of Photography, making it independent from its parent, Graphic Design. Hill also served as the department’s first Director of Graduate Studies in Photography (1971-1978). His colleagues during the 1960s and 1970s included Eisenman, Walker Evans, Herbert Matter, Norman Ives, Bradbury Thompson, and Paul Rand. Throughout his teaching career, Hill actively continued his work as a photographer and a designer. In addition to his involvement in book design, Hill has also written books about Walker Evans, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, and others.

Photographer Walker Evans appointed Hill as executor of his estate and when Evans died in 1975, Hill undertook the responsibility of an expanded evaluation of Evans’ career and during his nineteen-years as executor he produced many books and exhibitions to that end. In 1994, he arranged the acquisition of Evans’ archive by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Ware 2018)