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Washington, D.C., 1975

1975 Kenneth Josephson Born: Detroit, Michigan 1932 gelatin silver print image: 8 x 12 in. (20.2 x 30.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the National Endowment for the Arts © 1975, Kenneth Josephson 1983.63.828 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

In the 1960s and 1970s, Kenneth Josephson, a graduate of the Institute of Design and a student of Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, began making works that focused on the act of picture making and offered playful commentary on photographic truth and illusion. He often actively intervened in the picture space by inserting objects or other photographs in front of the lens. In Washington, D.C., 1975 from his Archaeological Series, Josephson used a six-inch woodworker’s contour gauge to represent the shape of the Washington Monument. Since the monument at the other end of the reflecting pool is considerably beyond the measuring instrument’s reach, we understand that the monument’s image has been replicated in miniature. The joke is more than a one-liner, since the picture is also a metaphor for the idea that a photograph is a one-to-one reproduction of the world itself, only in smaller scale.

A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2013


Cityscape - District of Columbia - Washington

Figure - fragment - arm

Landscape - park

Landscape - water

Monument - obelisk - Washington Monument

photography - photoprint

paper - agfa

gelatin silver

About Kenneth Josephson

Born: Detroit, Michigan 1932

More works in the collection by
Kenneth Josephson

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