JOHN DUGDALE: AN ARTIST’S JOURNEY
“John Dugdale: An Artist’s Journey” is a solo show dedicated to the work of the American photographer John Dugdale. Born in Connecticut in 1960, John Dugdale’s interest in photography was sparked at the age of 11 when he was gifted a camera by his mother. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York where he majored in Photography and Art History. In 1983 Dugdale had his first solo show at Vienna’s Molotor Art Gallery. Soon after he began a commercial career and took photographs for clients such as Bergdorf Goodman, Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, and the New York Times. In 1993, at the age of 33, he became partially blind, later losing 80 percent visibility in his left eye and becoming completely blind in his right. Although this ended his commercial career, his ability to engage with his creativity blossomed and he began to create fine art photographs using 19th century photographic processes to avoid the toxic chemistry of the traditional darkroom. When asked how he could create such a stunning number of beautiful photographs with so little vision remaining he answered, “The most splendid secrets of vision dwell in the heart and mind.”
While using alternative printing techniques, John Dugdale’s imagery employs a personal and poetic narrative, drawing on inspiration from American Transcendentalists: Whitman, Thoreau, Emerson, and Dickinson. He uses the writers’ conceits to help him visualize pictures, and relies on a large format antique camera, with full plate negatives and available light, to create cyanotypes, platinum prints, and albumen prints that capture the spirituality within his self-portraits, still-lifes, and figure studies.
Dugdale has exhibited in numerous solo gallery shows, and his imagery is included in some of the most important institutional collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. He was also inducted into the Royal Photographic Society, founded in London in 1853 with an objective to promote the arts and sciences. Dugdale has produced an amazing body of work that pays homage both in technique and intent to the 19th century photographic work of Julia Margaret Cameron, Sir John Herschel, and Henry Fox Talbot. The methods of printing he embraces send his contemporary imagery back in time, alluding to different eras within the medium. His photographs, dream-like and transcendent of time, are beautiful depictions of himself, his friends and family, personal belongings, and “the delicate passage of the day into evening,” creating an alluring visual diary.