Virtual Talk with Jeff Gunderson: Learning in the Grove of Akademus
Fri. July 24, 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm This event has passed
We’re collaborating with Larkspur Library to present a free talk with longtime San Francisco Art Institute librarian and resident historian, Jeff Gunderson, who presented this talk to a packed house at Bolinas Museum earlier this year in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibition, The Golden Decade: Photography at the School of Fine Arts 1945-1955.
Jeff Gunderson, will discuss the founding of the California School of Fine Art’s groundbreaking photography program in the 1940s and the school’s post-war milieu of avant-garde experimentation. Students in the photography program enjoyed close relationships with their teachers, often staying in their homes and working side-by-side in the field, inspiring student Ira Latour to describe his early days in the program as “learning in the Grove of Akademus.”
After World War II the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA) in San Francisco (later renamed the San Francisco Art Institute) hired renowned photographer Ansel Adams to establish one of the first fine art photography departments in the United States. The caliber of teachers and guest instructors assembled under the new directorship of Douglas MacAgy was unmatched, making the CFSA one of the most avant-garde art schools of its time. On hand were painters such as Clyfford Still, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, and Claire Falkenstein; and photographers Ansel Adams, Minor White, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, Lisette Model, and Homer Page.
The first decade of the program gave rise to a unique group of photographers who went on to become accomplished artists and contributors to visual culture. Students arrived from near and far and The Golden Decade focuses on these students and their work. The exhibition celebrates both the influence of the school and this particular time period in the history of American photography. Students explored rural and urban life, agriculture, industry, portraiture, still life, and the landscape-but using the camera as a tool for personal expression prevailed.
Jeff Gunderson has been the Librarian and Archivist at the San Francisco Art Institute since 1981. He has written about the history of California photography and the San Francisco art scene of the 1940s, and presented on artists Joan Brown, Elmer Bischoff, Ed Ruscha, Charles Howard, as well as the history of LGBTQ art in San Francisco, the history of Bay Area conceptual art, and the influence of art libraries on artists. He also wrote the introductory essay to Black Power/Flower Power: Photographs by Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch. He is currently working on a collection of essays about open water swimming.
This talk is part Bolinas Museum’s current exhibition The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955 curated by Jennifer O’Keefe and is supported in part by a grant from the Stinson Bolinas Community Fund.
Image: Photo taken on a CSFA Field trip to Carmel to visit Edward Weston by Lee Blodgett,1946. Left to right: Ray Piercy, Philip Knight, Edward Weston, David Johnson, Minor White, and Muriel Green.