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Mark Klett

Mark Klett

American, born 1952

Mark Klett (born in Albany, New York, in 1952) is one of the most prominent landscape photographers of his generation. Trained as a geologist at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York (B.S. degree, 1974), Klett later turned to photography and earned an M.F.A. in 1977 from the State University of New York, Buffalo, in their program at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York. He brought the two interests together by working as a photographer for the U.S. Geologic Survey. His artistic work received early recognition with an Emerging Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1979. Klett has worked for many years as a professor at Arizona State University in Tempe and has become one of the country's most important teachers of young photographers. In 2001 he was named a Regents Professor. His work has been shown in one-person exhibitions at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and the Phoenix Art Museum. Klett lives in Arizona, where he teaches photography at Arizona State University, Tempe.

In his photographic work, he has concentrated on exploring human interaction with the American landscape. The artist is known for his black-and-white landscapes of the Southwestern United States, often using Polaroid positive-negative film, which results in the distinctive edges of his prints. He also characteristically titles and dates his images on the verso with silver ink. More recently, he has been engaged in issues of photography in time, including "rephotography." The term was coined during a collaborative project in the 1980s that resulted in the publication Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project (1984) in which Klett and his colleagues followed in the footsteps of nineteenth-century expedition photographers, such as Timothy O'Sullivan and A.J. Russell, and, after much research and calculation, photographed from the same locations. A third set of images was added for Third Views, Second Sights: A Rephotographic Survey of the American West (2004). His work has been exhibited internationally, is included in major collections of photography throughout the United States and abroad, and has been the subject of several publications.

In 1878 Eadweard Muybridge climbed with his cumbersome wooden view camera to the top of California Street in San Francisco to make a 360-degree panorama of the city. In 1990 Mark Klett revisited the idea with Panorama of San Francisco. Klett’s goal was to match Muybridge’s photographs – something no longer possible in 1990 from the same spot because of the skyline created during the century spanning the two projects. These two carefully planned San Francisco panoramas, presented together in the accordion-fold book One City/Two Visions (1990), reveal the evolution of a city.

Fox, William L. View Finder: Mark Klett, Photography, and the Reinvention of Landscape. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

Klett, Mark, Denis Johnson, and Peter Galassi. Traces of Eden: Travels in the Desert Southwest. Boston: D.R. Godine, 1986.

Klett, Mark, and Ellen Manchester. Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984.

Klett, Mark, Thomas W.Southall, and Patricia Nelson Limerick. Revealing Territory: Photographs of the Southwest. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992.

Muybridge, Eadweard, and Mark Klett. One City/Two Visions: San Francisco Panoramas, 1878 and 1990. San Francisco, CA: Bedford Arts Publishers, 1990.

Nabhan, Gary Paul, and Mark Klett. Desert Legends: Re-Storying the Sonoran Borderlands. New York: Holt, 1994