A Distanced Land: The Photographs of John Pfahl was the premiere retrospective of the work of Buffalo’s internationally known photographer. While John Pfahl had been the focus of exhibitions devoted to individual series of his work, A Distanced Land was the first consideration of the artist’s entire oeuvre and his influence on contemporary photography.
The exhibition featured 150 photographs from nine series of work, including Pfahl’s ongoing series Waterfalls and Smoke. The body of work begins with the widely recognized conceptual and often humorous images from his early series Altered Landscapes and continues through the majestic towers of future energy from Power Places and the elegant painterly views of Arcadia Revisited. Throughout his work, Pfahl displays a keen sense of place and obvious delight in his subjects, as well as a thoughtful and innovative understanding of pictorial strategies in art history.
Born in New York City in 1939, Pfahl received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Syracuse University and a master’s degree from the university’s School of Communication. He became an instructor in the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, where he taught until 1983. Pfahl had exhibited his work and given lectures nationally and internationally, and he had received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Creative Artists program.
In conjunction with the exhibition, John Pfahl presented a slide-illustrated lecture on his work on December 2. Pfahl discussed various photographs from the nine series featured in A Distanced Land. Curator Cheryl Brutvan wrote introductions to each series and award-winning author Estelle Jussim of Simmons College in Boston wrote an essay for the 206-page catalogue that accompanied the exhibition.
After showing at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, A Distanced Land travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art, the Ansel Adams Museum of Photography, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
This exhibition was organized by Curator Cheryl Brutvan.