New Mexico: Ancient Land and Culture
June 24th – September 9th, 2022
Liliane De Cock
Willard Van Dyke
“New Mexico has long attracted photographers, ever since Timothy H. O’Sullivan, fresh from his extraordinary photographic documentation of the Civil War, joined the government surveys of the West and brought to this part of the country his massive view camera and the bulky processing equipment needed to work the collodion or wet plate process. His photographs of the area now known as the Canyon de Chelly National Monument taken in 1873 have seldom been surpassed. Perhaps he was the first to photograph Santa Fe, the picturesque city now the capital of New Mexico.
In the ensuing hundred years or more scores of photographers have passed through Santa Fe. Among them are to be counted such masters as Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Eliot Porter, Laura Gilpin and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The obvious reason why photographers have been consistently attracted to New Mexico is the beauty of the land and the environment. The landscape is varied, from the flat expanse of deserts to mountains and extraordinary rock formations. I know of few places where the indigenous architecture blends so well with the land. The principal building materials are sun-dried earthen adobe bricks and huge timbers from the forest. Many cultures have shaped the environment: that of the Native Americans, that of the Conquistadores of Spain, that of settlers from Mexico, and that of Anglos from the East and West coasts.
Above all, the light of Santa Fe is photographic – – – “A photograph light to be matched in no other civilized country”, wrote Charles F. Lummis back in 1895.
Recently an increasing number of photographers have chosen New Mexico as their residence. Their reason for this seems to me to lie beyond the obvious charm and varieties of the outward environment. Many of the newcomers are continuing their photographic careers on a world –wide basis. To the creative artist New Mexico is the place where life can be pleasant, the material environment stimulating, and the sprit renewed.”
Beaumont Newhall, Santa Fe, 1981
Excerpted from the introduction
Fourteen Photographers from Santa Fe, Gallery Gemini, 1981