Date of Lecture: 1992-11-16, 17
Richard Benson is an innovative image-maker and renowned printer who has experimented with photographic processes ranging from the historical and obsolete to the most current technology. Benson first studied sculpture at the Art Students’ League in New York and later spent many years working at the Eakins Press Foundation. In the 1960s, he helped develop the tri-tone process method of photographic reproduction. His most recent technical innovation involves printing photographic negatives in acrylic paint on light sensitized sheets of aluminum. Although the labor-intensive process takes several hours and can involve as many as 30 separate exposures, the resulting prints are subtle and tonally rich and the final outcome produces unique images from a single negative.
In recent years, Benson has brought many innovations to the production of long run offset books, and his publication of works such as Lee Friedlander’s The American Monument and the limited-edition Photographs of The Gilman Collection are widely regarded as definitive.
The acclaimed Lay this Laurel (1994), an album focusing upon the Saint-Gaudens Memorial on Boston Common honoring the first black volunteer regiment in the Civil War, features photographs by Benson as well as text by Lincoln Kirstein.
Benson’s photographs are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in many other private and public collections. Benson has received several awards of distinction, among them being a five-year MacArthur Foundation Award (1986) and two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships (1979, 1986). From 1979-2011, Benson taught at Yale University as a professor of photography and was the Dean of the Yale School of Art from 1996-2006.