David Maisel

David Maisel (b. 1961, New York) is an artist working in photography and video, and the recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts. Among his chief concerns are the politics and aesthetics of radically human-altered environments, and how we perceive our place in time via investigations of cultural artifacts from both past and present. His work focuses on power and the production of space by examining landscapes, objects, and archives that are off-limits, quarantined, or hidden from view. He is represented in New York by Edwynn Houk Gallery, and in San Francisco by Haines Gallery.

"Black Maps," Maisel’s multi-chaptered project of aerial photographs, depicts open pit mines, clear-cut forests, rampant sprawl, and zones of desertification through the American West. These alien yet compelling images take the viewer toward the margins of the unknown, and posit an expanded definition of contemporary landscape. His series "Library of Dust" and "History’s Shadow" delve into concealed archives, unearthing objects from the past and recasting them as potent, totemic images. "Proving Ground," Maisel’s most current series, examines the site of Dugway Proving Ground, a classified military setting in Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert devoted to testing and development of chemical and biological weapons and defense systems.

In addition to being awarded a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, Maisel has been a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute (2007), and an Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts (2008), and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Center for Cultural Innovation. He has served as a Trustee of the Headlands Center for the Arts since 2011. Maisel received his BA from Princeton University and his MFA from California College of the Arts, in addition to study at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Maisel’s photographs and videos are held in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others.

Maisel’s work has been the subject of six monographs, including "Mount St Helens: Afterlife" (Ivorypress, 2018), "Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime" (Steidl, 2013), "History’s Shadow" (Nazraeli, 2011), "Library of Dust" (Chronicle, 2008), "Oblivion" (Nazraeli, 2006), and "The Lake Project" (Nazraeli, 2004). "Proving Ground" will be published by Radius Books in 2020.

David Maisel’s work has been exhibited internationally, including "Civilization: The Way We Live Now" (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea); "New Territory: Landscape Photography Today" (Denver Museum of Art);" Landmark: The Fields of Photography" (Somerset House, London); "Surveying the Terrain," (Raleigh Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh); "History Recast: Contemporary Photography of Classical Sculpture" (American Academy, Rome); "Memory Theater," Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY; "Infinite Balance: Artists and the Environment" (Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego); "Imagination Earth" (Seoul Arts Center); "Imaging a Shattering Earth: Contemporary Photography and the Environmental Debate" (Museum Of Contemporary Art, Toronto, and the National Gallery of Art, Ottawa); "Dark Matters: Artists See the Impossible" (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco), and "Ecotopia; the Photography Triennial" (International Center of Photography, New York).

Maisel lectures regularly at museums, universities, and colleges. His work has been the subject of several symposia, including "Library of Dust" at the New York Institute of Humanities (2009) and "Black Maps" at Harvard University‘s Graduate School of Design (2016).

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