Date of Lecture: 1999-11-12
John Gossage has been making photographs for nearly 40 years. Born in Staten Island in 1946, Gossage left school at the age of 16. He began a self-education process that found him shooting for the Staten Island Advance and spending the rest of his time at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, going through their entire print collection one photograph at a time. He had his first solo show in Greenwich Village at the age of 18, after which he decided it was time to go back to school in order to acquire the discipline he needed to make a career of photography. He moved to Washington to attend the progressive Walden School of Washington. After graduation he received a grant from the Washington Gallery of Modern Art that allowed him to stay on there and continue to refine his skills and develop a proper body of work.
Since that time he has produced several monographs and limited edition books and he has exhibited his photographs internationally. He has taught at the University of Maryland and curated several shows of photo-works. John Gossage has always considered the book, rather than the print or the exhibition, to be the central unit of his making. When he lectured at Ryerson he had just completed “There and Gone“, a book dealing with a particular stretch of the border separating Mexico from the United States. He spoke to “Function” about his own process of putting together a book: “it’s like sentence structure, about scale, about which pictures inform other pictures. It’s more instinct than planning. Emotional instinct.“