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Robert Mahon

American, b. 1949

Source:, 9/26/2017
Robert Mahon was born in Wilmington, Delaware, December 28, 1949. He received a BA in American Studies from the University of Delaware in 1971. In 1978 he began working as a photographer by making portraits of poets, John Ashbery, Howard Moss, Paul Zweig, William Logan, John Giorno, Richard Howard, Denise Levertov, among others. Then, in 1981, a book of photographs of the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, W. D. Snodgrass entitled These Trees Stand, was published; and, as part of his poet project Mahon photographed the composer and writer, John Cage, through the use of chance processes.

This 216-image portrait of John Cage was acquired by The Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1987, and the New York Public Library in 1998; and was exhibited at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the American Center in Paris, and the Kolnischer Kunstverein, Colgne. John Cage in his book, X Writings ‘79 - ‘82, has said, “Using chance operations Robert Mahon’s found a way to let each photograph photograph itself.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquired 36 photographs from this series in 1982.

A recipient of the Guggenheim fellowship, he has contributed to the dialogue on chance process as well as "memory documentation" through photography with many significant projects such as the Liberty Series; three panel, sixty-image portrayal of the Statue of Liberty, which was acquired by The Museum of Modern Art in New York for its Permanent Collection in 1987. Merce Cunnigham at 88, a series of 18 photographs and photocollages, was exhibited in a one-person exhibit at the Schotland Gallery in Flemington, New Jersey, in September 2007, and Witherspoon Gallery, Princeton, New Jersey, in 2008.

• Robert Mahon’s photographs are in many private and public collections, and have been exhibited widely. The following is a selected list.

Fogg Museum, Harvard University Art Museums
John Cage Trust
New Jersey State Museum
Princeton University Art Museum
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
The N. Y. Public Library, Photograph Collection

Exhibited by:
The American Center in Paris
The Art Institute of Chicago
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Guggenheim Museum Soho, New York
Kolnischer Kunstverein, Koln
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art
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