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May 18, 2011

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Harn Museum of Art to Present First Retrospective of Jerry Uelsmann's Work


GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The first critical retrospective of American photographer Jerry Uelsmann’s work will open at the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida on June 14, 2011. Uelsmann, known for his iconic, surreal style and his innovative composite printing techniques, has spent more than 50 years challenging and advocating for the acceptance of photography as an experimental art form. The Mind’s Eye, 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts will feature 89 works from every phase of the artist’s wide-ranging career, including a selection of rare pieces that have never before been on public view. Additional works from the artist’s collection will be on view only during this leg of the exhibition, open through September 11, 2011.

“The Harn Museum of Art is delighted to welcome this important exhibition of photographic works by the University of Florida’s own Jerry Uelsmann, a graduate research professor in the art department from 1960 to 1998,” said Rebecca Nagy, director of the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art." Jerry has been, and continues to be a leader in the field and we are delighted to celebrate and look back on such a long, important, and innovative career.”

The exhibition will emphasize Uelsmann’s profound influence on the field of photography through his revolutionary mastery of composite photography. Through the presentation of images from different stages of his works, viewers will gain a new understanding of the artist’s creative process and the evolution of Uelsmann’s ideas throughout his career. The pieces on view will be drawn from the artist’s personal archive of vintage materials, and are the definitive prints of the images. A few examples of the artist’s photo sculptures, artist’s books and albums will give viewers first-hand insight into Uelsmann’s creative process.

“From the beginning of his career, Uelsmann has advocated for the acceptance of photography as an experimental art form,” said Phillip Prodger, curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum. “Uelsmann’s photography provides a valuable touchstone for understanding new trends in photographic art. His ideas and work have become even more relevant as photography embraces Photoshop and other computer technologies for altering and manipulating photographic pictures.”

Beginning in the late 1950s, Uelsmann succeeded in combining negatives in the darkroom to create synthetic compositions that conjure the illusion of photographic truth. Although these pictures are visually convincing, they depict scenes that often have no analogue in the real world. Evocative, unsettling, and often humorous, Uelsmann’s photographs are seldom easily resolved, inviting reflection without obvious resolution. His most famous technique, seamlessly fabricating photographs from unrelated negatives to create imaginary scenes, helped build his reputation as an experimental photographer, and cemented his standing as a leader of non-literal photography.

“My visual quest is driven by a desire to create a universe capable of supporting feelings and ideas,” said Jerry Uelsmann. “I am drawn to art that challenges one’s sense of reality.”

Born in Detroit in 1934, Uelsmann received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1957 and Master of Science and Master of Fine Arts degrees from Indiana University in 1960. He joined the faculty of the University of Florida in 1960 and is now retired. Uelsmann received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

The Mind’s Eye will be on display until September 11. The exhibition was organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts by PEM Curator of Photography, Philip Prodger and made possible locally by Michael and Donna Singer, PPI, Prudential Trend Realty and TV20, with additional support from the Harn Program Endowment, the Harn 20th Anniversary Fund, anonymous friends and the Exhibition Circle.

High resolution images of works are available at the following media website:


The museum is offering a number of related programs and ways to participate in the exhibition for audiences of all ages.

Harn Member pARTy, Friday, June 17, 6 - 8:30 p.m.
Harn Museum of Art members will enjoy a pARTy celebrating the exhibition on June 17 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. There will be an opportunity to join at the door. Visit the membership section of the Harn’s website for a list of additional benefits and information about how to join.

Family Day, Saturday, June 18, 1 - 4 p.m.
Family Day participants will take a tour of the exhibition and participate in a photo collage art activity.

Exhibition Spotlight Tours, Sunday, June 19 and Sunday, September 11, 2 p.m.
Exhibition spotlight tours will be given by a knowledgeable docent on these dates. Bring dad for the June 19 tour and enjoy a special Father's Day lunch buffet in the Camellia Court Café prior to the tour. Those dining in the café on this day will also receive a 10% discount in the Harn Store when they show their lunch receipt.

Lecture by Jerry Uelsmann, Sunday, July 10, 3 p.m.
Jerry Uelsmann's technique of seamlessly fabricating photographs from unrelated negatives to create imaginary scenes cemented his standing as a leader of non-literal photography. Uelsmann will discuss his life and work during this presentation. Pre-signed copies of the exhibition catalogue "The Mind's Eye" will be available in the Harn Museum Store for purchase. Early arrival for the lecture is suggested due to expected high attendance, and seating cannot be guaranteed.

Museum Nights, Thursday, July 14, 6 - 9 p.m.
University of Florida students and the community will enjoy an interactive evening celebrating photography and the exhibition. Offerings will include a gallery talk by Harn Curator of Modern Art Dulce Roman, music and dance performances inspired by the photographic works and a display of vintage cameras. Museum Nights is an ongoing program made possible by the generous support of the University of Florida Office of the Provost, Honors Program and Student Government.

Gallery Talks, Sunday, July 17 and Sunday, August 28, 3 p.m.
With research interests in photography and American visual culture Dr. Glenn Willumson, UF Director of the Graduate Program in Museum Studies and Associate Professor of Art History, will provide an art historical perspective of Jerry Uelsmann’s photography on July 17.  Richard Heipp, Professor of Painting and Drawing and Interim Director at the School of Art and Art History will address the exhibition from the perspective of a fellow artist and admirer. He will discuss Uelsmann’s imagery and influence on the history of photography, on August 28.

About the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Founded in 1990, the Harn Museum of Art is an integral part of the University of Florida. The Harn contributes to an interconnected, international community by integrating the arts and culture into curricula throughout the university’s system of colleges and centers. Its holdings include more than 8,000 works in five main collecting areas: Asian art, African art, photography, modern art of the Americas and Europe, and international contemporary art. In addition to rotating installations drawn from its permanent collection, the Harn organizes traveling exhibitions, public lectures, panel discussions, academic symposia and educational programs for adults, students and children. In 2012, the Harn will open the 26,000-square-foot David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing, which will feature three levels, including new galleries, storage and conservation spaces, as well as outdoor gardens.

The Harn Museum, at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road in Gainesville, Fla., is part of the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza, which is also home to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is open until 9 p.m. the second Thursday of every month for Museum Nights. The Camellia Court Café is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

Media contact :
Tami Wroath
Harn Museum of Art
(352) 392-9826 x2116

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