John Bentley Mays (1991-02-14)

John Bentley Mays
Practice: Critic and Author
Date of Lecture: 1991-02-14

Mays_John Bentley_w01Snapshot, anonymous photograph

John Bentley Mays is a journalist, novelist and critic known for his articulate, informed and occasionally controversial opinions regarding international art practice and cultural issues. Particularly drawn to photography, he has covered numerous exhibitions in Toronto and abroad.

His 1991 lecture at Ryerson addressed the significance of vernacular photography. Discussing the weight that such images acquire within the construction of personal histories, Mays drew upon photos from his own family album to illustrate the common snapshot’s function within discourses of family and identity. Challenging the establishment’s neglect of this popular image-making process, Mays called for a reconsideration of the vernacular photograph’s aesthetic and theoretical potential, stating that “since Kodak, anyone can make pictures, every one of which, it can be argued, is as interesting as any art photograph.”

From 1980 to 1998, John Bentley Mays was the Visual Arts Critic for The Globe and Mail and from 1998 to 2001, he was the cultural correspondent for the National Post. Mays has written several award-winning magazine articles and the Canadian bestseller, In the Jaws of the Black Dogs: A Memoir of Depression.

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