Margaret Sartor, whose own photographic work is represented by Ann Stewart Fine Art, has recently returned from the exhibition opening of the Willian Gedney retrospective in France connected to the book she contributed to. The show, William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955–1984, opened June 28 and is on view through September 17, 2017 at the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier.
Mysterious, introspective, fiercely private, and self-taught, street photographer William Gedney (1932–1989) produced impressive series of images focused on people whose lives were overlooked, hidden, or reduced to stereotypes. He was convinced that photography was a means of expression as efficient as literature, and his images were accompanied by writings, essays, excerpts from books, and aphorisms. Gedney avoided self-promotion, and his underrepresented work was largely unknown during his short lifetime. He died at the age of fifty-six from AIDS.
William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955–1984 is the first comprehensive retrospective of his photography. It presents images from all of his major series, including eastern Kentucky, where Gedney lived with and photographed the family of laid-off coal miner Willie Cornett; San Francisco and Haight-Ashbury, where he attached himself to a group of disaffected youth, photographing them as they drifted from one vacant apartment to the next during the “Summer of Love”; early photo-reportage of gay pride parades in the eighties; Benares, India, Gedney’s first trip abroad, during which he obsessively chronicled the concurrent difficulty and beauty of daily life; and night scenes that, in the absence of people and movement, evoke a profound universal loneliness. The most complete overview of Gedney’s work to date, this volume reveals the undeniable beauty of a major American photographer.
The publication associated with the exhibition is written by Gilles Mora with Margaret Sartor and Lisa McCarty. The exhibition is curated by Gilles Mora.
Margaret Sartor is a writer, photographer, and curator. She teaches documentary photography at Duke University and is the coeditor with Geoff Dyer of What Was True: The Photographs and Notes of William Gedney.
Gilles Mora has been the editor in chief of the magazine Les Cahiers de la Photographie, an editor with Éditions du Seuil in Paris, and the artistic director of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles. Currently he is the director of the city of Montpellier’s Pavillon Populaire. He was awarded the Nadar Prize for the Last Photographic Heroes: American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies.
Lisa McCarty is curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University and is in charge of the William Gedney archives there.