Ralph Gibson was born in Los Angeles, California in 1939, and he was a photographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy before he decided to study painting and photography at the San Francisco Art Institute.
The most influential experience in his younger years happened in the early 60s when he started working as a printing assistant for Dorothea Lange, another preeminent American photographer. Besides Lange, Gibson was also assisting another photographer, Robert Frank. Inspired by his experiences with the famous photographers, he decided to publish his photographs collected and arranged in photo books.
In 1969, he moved to New York, where he founded Lustrum Press and began to develop his own style, less influenced by the typical documentary photography. In the early 70s, he published the famous trilogy of photo books, called The Somnambulist, Deja-vu and Days at Sea. Gibson has since completed over 40 books.
His images often incorporate fragments with erotic and mysterious undertones, building narrative meaning through contextualization and surreal juxtaposition.
Ralph Gibson has carried on a lifelong love affair with France, passionately observing and recording the country through its most intimate details. In The Spirit of Burgundy he gives us a compelling visual chronicle of a year in one of France’s most culturally rich regions. In The Spirit of Burgundy local cuisine, architecture, customs, wine cultivation, landscape, and the Burgundians themselves are ongoing visual themes that combine to produce a witty portrait that is sensual but not sentimental, both stark and lush, earthy and enigmatic.
(1) Ralph Gibson, drei Schritte neben der Wirklichkeit | Arte TRACKS (Youtube)
(2) Finding a Visual Identity in the Digital Age | Ralph Gibson | TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica (Youtube)
(3) New Surface2Surface (Vimeo)
(1) Ralph Gibson: The Somnambulist (Lustrum Press, 1973)