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"Being a photographer is the easiest thing in the world – you just have to push the button. But the most difficult thing is to take a picture that you can go on looking at for a long time,” is the way Gibson formulates his artistic and photographic challenge. Over the past six decades, he has succeeded in fulfilling this task brilliantly, time and again; a fact that was impressively in evidence at the Leica Gallery in Wetzlar last week. As part of the Celebration of Photography event, the photographer was honoured with the Leica Hall of Fame Award for his life's work, which can now be viewed in a comprehensive exhibition, on display until the end of February.

Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director and General Representative of Leica Galleries International introduced Gibson and his work on stage, during an evening event at the Leica Gallery in Wetzlar, within the framework of the Celebration of Photography. She explained: “Whether secretive and emotional, or clearly recognisable; analogue or digital; black and white, or even colour on rare occasion -- Ralph Gibson has undoubtedly created a many-layered and touching body of work, for which we are more than happy to distinguish him with the Leica Hall of Fame Award.”

Gibson was an entertaining guest: not only during the press conference on the day of the award ceremony, but also in the evening; and again, on the following day, during a talk, when he shared many stories from his life with the photographer and film maker Ted Forbes. An extensive video portrayal of Ralph Gibson was produced for the occasion of the Leica Hall of Fame Awards, and may be seen at Youtube.

Gibson remained an advocate of analogue photography for a very long time; but the use of a Leica Monochrom, in 2013, changed his attitude. Immediately after taking the first pictures, he recognised the potential of digital technology, and was able to transition effortlessly from the dark room to digital imagery. His vision, however, remained unchanged. Many of his motifs have long been considered icons of photography. His clear, graphic and perfectly composed images, where he often gets up close to the object, are immediately recognisable. His pictures seem abstract, yet without totally giving up the relationship to reality. In addition to precise studies of objects, surreal compositions, and spontaneous street scenes, exquisite nudes are also a recurring element in Gibson's repertoire.

A comprehensive portfolio and an interview with Ralph Gibson may be found in the current issue 8/2021 of LFI.
Ralph Gibson in his exhibition, Leica Galerie Wetzlar
Ralph Gibson in conversation with Ted Forbes, Leica Galerie Wetzlar, 5.11.2021
Emile Ducke, LOBA-Newcomer 2021; Ana María Arévalo Gosen, LOBA-Winner 2021; Karin Rehn-Kaufmann and Ralph Gibson, Wetzlar 4.11.2021
From his series "Quadrants", 1975
From his series "Mono", 2013
From his series "Chiaroscuro", 1972
© Leica Camera

Ralph Gibson

Born in Los Angeles on January 16, 1939,  Ralph Gibson learned photography in the U.S. Navy and at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1960 to 1962. He worked as an assistant to both Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank. Gibson is represented in the most important collector and museum collections. His work has been exhibited internationally and received numerous awards. These include the Leica Medal of Excellence in 1988, and the French Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur in 2018. Gibson lives in New York.  

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