Peter C. Bunnell

Peter C. Bunnell

Fellow: Awarded 1979
Field of Study: Photography Studies

Competition: US & Canada

Princeton University

Peter C. Bunnell is the McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art Emeritus at Princeton University. This chair, established in 1972, is the nation’s first endowed professorship of the history of photography. Bunnell retired from Princeton in 2002. From 1973 to 1978 he was also director of the Princeton University Art Museum, and from 1998 to 2000 he served as acting director. Prior to coming to the University in 1972, he was curator of photography at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. He held a similar curatorship during his thirty years at Princeton where he was also responsible for the Minor White Archive and the Clarence H. White Collection. In 1998, in celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the photography collection, Bunnell edited  Photography at Princeton, a work containing 125 reproductions and a full history and documentation of the collection.

Mr. Bunnell is the author of the book Minor White: The Eye That Shapes, a work that accompanied a major retrospective exhibition of White’s photographs that opened at The Museum of Modern Art in 1989 and toured to six other museums. The Eye That Shapes won the prestigious George Wittenborn Memorial Award of the Art Libraries Society of North America. In 1993 the Cambridge University Press published his Degrees of Guidance, a collection of essays on twentieth-century photography. In 2006 Aperture published Inside the Photograph, a collection of thirty-one texts on twentieth-century photographers. Other publications are two anthologies of writings entitled A Photographic Vision: Pictorial Photography 1889-1923 and Edward Weston on Photography, a catalogue devoted to the work of the Photo-Secessionist Clarence H. White, and an issue of the Princeton Art Museum Record devoted to its holdings of pictorial photography.

With Alan Trachtenberg and Peter Neill he edited The City: American Experience (Oxford UP, 1971), and the Arno Press reprint series The Literature of Photography and The Sources of Modern Photography. He has written essays on collecting photographs, large-format photography, photography as printmaking and sculpture, portraiture, various galleries such as Light, Limelight, and Witkin, as well as the photographers Diane Arbus, Ruth Bernhard, Paul Caponigro, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Emmet Gowin, Gertrude Kasebier, Michael Kenna, Michiko Kon, Ray K. Metzker, Barbara Morgan, Wright Morris, John Pfahl, Edward Ranney, Aaron Siskind, and Alfred Stieglitz. He has authored three monographs on Jerry N. Uelsmann. His articles include reviews and commentary for Afterimage, American Art, Art in America, Artscanada, Arts in Virginia, Camera, Camera Mainichi, Choice, Creative Camera, European Photography, Exposure, History of Photography, The New Republic, New York Times Book Review, Print Collector’s Newsletter, and Untitled.

In 1978 Bunnell wrote the catalogue and curated the Harry Callahan exhibition for the United States Pavilion at the 38th Biennale di Venezia in Italy. His television experience includes preparation of the program Time, Light and Vision: The Art of Photography for the NET Network, and consultation on the continuing American Masters series. In 2002 a set of postage stamps, “Masters of American Photography,” was issued by the U.S. Postal Service featuring photographers and images selected by Bunnell.

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1937, Bunnell received his M.A. degree in art history from Yale University where he was also an associate in the Alfred Stieglitz Archive. A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, he also holds an M.F.A. degree from Ohio University. In 1984 he received a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council that enabled him to travel and lecture extensively in Japan. In 1995 he returned to Japan as a consultant to the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. He has taught at New York University, Dartmouth College, and Yale University, and lectured throughout the U.S. He has participated in numerous international workshops and symposia, including Amsterdam, Arles, and Oxford. In 1990 Bunnell was invited to present a paper to the American Philosophical Society at its autumn meeting in Philadelphia. He is the former national chairman of the Society for Photographic Education, and he was also chairman of the board of The Friends of Photography. He is still a member of numerous advisory committees to universities, museums, and publications. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.


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