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For immediate release: February 7, 2003

CONTACT: Ruta Smithson (609) 258-3763

Photographs by Edward Ranney on View at Princeton University Art Museum

Exhibition Dates: February 15 through June 7, 2003

PRINCETON -- "Photographs by Edward Ranney: The John B. Elliott Collection," an exhibition that opens February 15, 2003, at the Princeton University Art Museum, will present an overview of the internationally renowned artist's career between 1970 and 1999.

Ranney, born in 1942, was first recognized for his photographic studies Stonework of the Maya (1974) and Monuments of the Incas (1982). After creating this substantial body of work devoted to pre-Columbian art and architecture -- photographs that convey the tightly bound alliance between the monuments and their geographic surroundings -- his explorations of the intersection of history, culture, and the landscape extended into several further arenas.

In 1979, Ranney began an ongoing collaboration with the artist Charles Ross, documenting the evolution of Rosss earthwork sculpture Star Axis, a monumental naked-eye celestial observatory being carved into a cliff face in eastern New Mexico. His images narrate the sites progress as well as describe the space between the earthbound and the celestial that Star Axis bridges. In 1980 and 1981, Ranney followed the undulations of Hadrians Wall across the British landscape; and in 1992, Ranney undertook a commission to photograph the Illinois and Michigan Canal Corridor. Constructed in the mid-nineteenth century, the waterway links Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River, traversing the part of Illinois where the artist was raised.

Ranney also has photographed extensively in the American Southwest, particularly in New Mexico, where he has made his home since 1970. These images follow the history of settlement in the region, from the remains of Native American sites that quietly populate the desert, to villages of Hispanic ancestry, to the water and power grid that now shapes much of the contemporary West.

Ranneys most recent project is a continuing series of emotionally charged landscapes of the Andean coastal desert of Peru, remarkable for the carefully rendered tension between the subtle shadows of ruins emerging from the desert and the vast expanses of these open valleys that begin against the Andes Mountains and terminate abruptly at the Pacific Ocean.

Believing in a photograph's ability to inform beyond the direct facts of a place, Ranney has sought to create images that give a feeling for the spirit of the culture." He will give a lecture on Space and Place Wednesday, April 9, at 4:30 p.m. in McCormick 106.

Catalogue Accompanies Exhibition

An illustrated catalogue has been published to accompany the exhibition. In it, Peter C. Bunnell, faculty curator of photography emeritus, writes, Ranneys photographs reflect his realization that surfaces can reveal inner states, that through the careful presentation of facts, spirit may be revealed, and that with dedication and respect, the character of a place may be shown in its essence. Throughout the years of his photographing, Ranney has pursued the same goal: to position his imagery in a cultural unity as part of a collective meaning he calls a photographic view of the world. In so doing, he has earned a reputation for insight and discernment. To be in his company, or to study one of his books, is to confront the serious interchange between intellectual knowledge and the poetics of feeling."

In the fall of 1989, John B. Elliott, Class of 1951, proposed that he acquire a representative selection of photographs by Edward Ranney as a gift to the museum. The offer was enthusiastically accepted, and the museum and the artist worked closely in the following years to select the 100 images that form the collection. John B. Elliott had a connoisseur's eye for the wonder, intelligence, and excitement in works created from a particular experience and passion, and he recognized and delighted in these qualities in Edward Ranney's photographs. The museum is indebted to John B. Elliott for this significant acquisition.

Related Events

Gallery Talk: The Americas: Photographs by Edward Ranney
Toby Jurovics, associate curator of photography
Friday, March 28, 12:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 30, 3:00 p.m.

Lecture: Space and Place
Edward Ranney, photographer
Wednesday, April 9, 4:30 p.m., McCormick 106


The museum is open to the public without charge. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Monday and major holidays. Free highlights tours of the collection are given every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The museum is located in the middle of the Princeton University campus, next to Prospect House and Gardens. Due to construction, visitors should use the temporary entrance on the west side of the building, across the green from Dod Hall.

For further information, please call (609) 258-3788, or visit our web site at http://www.princetonartmuseum.org.