Wright Morris: L’essence du visible (Editions Xavier Barral, 2019)

Wright Morris (1910-1998) was an American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and photographer. Pairing photographs with his own writing, Morris pioneered a new tradition of “photo-texts” in the 1940s. Devoid of figures, his photographs depict everyday objects and atmosphere. This first monograph in French coincides with the first important exhibition in France at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris (June 18 – September 29, 2019).

Artist: http://ccp-emuseum.catnet.arizona.edu/view/people/asitem/items@:1608

Exposition: https://www.henricartierbresson.org/en/expositions/wright-morris-lessence-visible/

Born in Nebraska, Morris attended Pomona College in Claremont, California. After graduation he traveled throughout Europe, purchasing his first camera in Vienna. Morris returned to California in 1934 determined to become a writer, but also continued to photograph. In 1935, he bought a Rolleiflex camera and began photographing extensively.

In 1942, Morris received the first of his three Guggenheim Fellowships, funding the completion of The Inhabitants. Published by Scribners, The Inhabitants (1946) documented domestic scenes of the South, Midwest, and Southwest. His second photo-text book, The Home Place (1948) was a visual novel, with short fictional prose accompanying each photograph. In 1956, Morris won the National Book Award for his tenth book, the unillustrated A Field of Vision.

The Museum of Modern Art proved supportive of Morris throughout his career, both exhibiting and purchasing his work. MoMA curator John Szarkowski prompted a reconsideration of Wright Morris with the publication of God’s Country and My People (1968), widely considered Morris’s most successful photo-text book. Morris’s exhibition career burgeoned in his later years with many shows including Wright Morris: Origin of a Species, a 1992 retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and following his death, Distinctly American: The Photography of Wright Morris at Stanford’s Cantor Center of Art in 2002.

Center for Creative Photography (CCP)

Video: https://www.sfmoma.org/watch/wright-morris-clara-holy-things-and-house-or-ark/

Wright Morris reads prose poem accompaniments to selected photographs from his works The Home Place (1948), The Inhabitants (1946), and God’s Country and My People (1968). Part one of a four-part series celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of Morris’s birth (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). You find all parts here.