Photographer Jerry Uelsmann passed away on April 4, 2022. He was a much celebrated and beloved UF artist, teacher, colleague and friend locally, nationally and internationally, and known for his combination printing of multiple negatives into fantastical photographic landscapes. With imagination and wit, he turned landscapes into conundrums, reveled in the poetry of the human body, or re-imagined reality altogether. His photographs then and now are collected and exhibited in museums around the world.
Uelsmann made his debut on the national stage through a 1967 Museum of Modern Art exhibition curated by John Szarkowski, who wrote, “[Uelsmann’s] photographs are unashamedly romantic, and like all romantic art they must tread a narrow path between bathos and sentimentality. In traveling this difficult track, Uelsmann’s balance is remarkable.” Jerry subsequently became the central figure in developing UF’s photography department, which drew students and faculty from across the U.S. and Canada.
This commemorative exhibition is an overview of Jerry Uelsmann’s creative life. Laid out in chronological order, it includes thirty-seven Uelsmann photographs from both the Harn collection and his archive in Gainesville. Separate from his photographs, a central area within the gallery will reflect his whimsical frame-of-mind seen through toys, visual jokes, and strange whirly-gigs that occupied his studio shelves and walls. Jerry was also a collector of paintings, photography, and folk art, which hung in his home as inspiration. Selections of these will also be on view along with twelve portraits of Jerry at different stages in his life by artists who knew and loved him.
Jerry Uelsmann is part of the University of Florida’s exceptional institutional history and memory. His contribution to UF’s SA+AH, the community of Gainesville, and beyond is extensive; for many, his aesthetic influence was, and continues to be, life changing. This exhibition is a comprehensive appreciation of the man through his distinct vision, wry humor, and prolific creativity.
This exhibition is made possible by the Curator of Photography Endowment and additional generous donors.