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Richard Benson: The World Is Smarter Than You Are

Richard Benson: The World Is Smarter Than You Are

by Peter Barberie, with a contribution by An-My Lê

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How is a thing made? What is the right way to photograph it? What is the best way to print the photograph? This book presents the first in-depth survey of photographs by Richard Benson (1943–2017), who approached the world with basic questions such as these about photography and many other matters. His questions were simple, but his solutions were not. Benson saw photography as a thrilling set of technical challenges and used it to craft profound depictions of people, the spaces of their lives and work, and the objects—both natural and artificial—that surround them. An essay by curator Peter Barberie interweaves examination of Benson’s photographic practices with the story of his ideas, writing, and reproductive printing, while photographer An-My Lê, Benson’s former student, offers her perspective on his teaching, family life, and art. The book begins with Benson’s stunning darkroom prints in silver and platinum and follows his trajectory toward digital photography, culminating in later color prints that are at once elegant, garish, and noisily democratic, capturing the contemporary world in vivid detail.

About the Authors
Peter Barberie is the Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

An-My Lê is Charles Franklin Kellogg and Grace E. Ramsey Kellogg Professor in the Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

152 pages
11 3/4 x 9 3/4 in.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021
ISBN-13: 9780876332016