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Rosalind Solomon

b. 1930
United States

Rosalind Fox Solomon is an American artist based in New York City. As she photographs, Solomon draws on an internal, visual language that puts her in touch with her subjects. Her life experience animates her work. Across diverse societies and circumstance, she examines relationships and ritual; survival and struggle. Solomon’s photographs are in the collections of over 50 museums and her work has been shown in nearly 30 solo exhibitions and 100 group exhibitions.

John Szarkowski included her work in the 1978 exhibition MIRRORS AND WINDOWS at the Museum of Modern Art, and exhibited examples from her Dolls and Manikins series in the show PHOTOGRAPHY FOR COLLECTORS. Szarkowski also selected 50 of Solomon’s prints for MoMA’s permanent collection. Her pictures appear over the years at MoMA in group exhibitions, including AMERICAN CHILDREN, AMERICAN POLITICIANS, PICTURES BY WOMEN: A HISTORY OF MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY and THE ORIGINAL COPY: SCULPTURE IN PHOTOGRAPHY 1839 TO TODAY. In 1986, MoMA mounted a solo exhibition of Solomon’s work, ROSALIND SOLOMON, RITUAL. Other exhibitions of her work include ROSALIND SOLOMON: EARTHRITES (MoPA 1986), PORTRAITS IN THE TIME OF AIDS (Grey Gallery, New York University, 1988), and CHAPALINGAS (Photographische Sammlung, 2003).

Born in Highland Park, Illinois, Solomon lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee for 16 years before beginning her life as artist and photographer. She began photographing in 1968,
continuing to live and work in the South until she moved in 1977 to Washington, D. C. Solomon studied privately with Lisette Model during visits to New York City.

In the 1970’s, Solomon began her work with dolls and manikins, portraits and ritual. She made her first portraits of the ill during a year-long project in a Chattanooga hospital. In Guatemala, she photographed shamans as well as secular and religious ritual. She also worked on a series of southern portraits which include President Jimmy Carter and William Eggleston. From 1977–79, Solomon continued photographing artists and politicians, among them Louise Nevelson, Eva Le Gallienne, William Christenberry, and Tony Smith. Her project, Outside the White House, was completed during two years in Washington, D. C., when her husband was Administrator of the General Services Administration.

In the 1980’s she photographed in Ancash, Peru, a region of the Andes where the remnants of a catastrophic earthquake was a metaphor for a time of personal turmoil. A Guggenheim Fellowship supported this work which was recognized as an historic document of a forgotten area when it was exhibited at Museo de Arte de Lima in 1996. She continued her work in the area, over the next 20 years. During the 1980’s, Solomon also spent six months in India, as a Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. In Kolkata, she photographed sculpture of mother goddess figures that radiate female power. She also photographed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Ganesh Pyne, and Satyagit Ray. In 1986 her exhibition EARTH RITES was featured at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

The demonization of people who were dying with AIDS, and the affinity Solomon felt with them because of concerns about her son’s progressive kidney disease, led her to photograph individuals with AIDS. Sixty-five of the resulting pictures were shown in a major 1988 exhibition PORTRAITS IN THE TIME OF AIDS at the New York University’s Grey Art Gallery. Twenty-Six of the original large-scale prints were shown again in 2013 at Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York City.

As ethnic violence increased throughout the world, Solomon went to Poland to revisit the Holocaust and photograph the people she encountered. She photographed Belfast children of The Troubles; the wounded of Belgrade, Hanoi and Phnom Penh; and the oppressed and the privileged of South Africa. For respite and contrast, she photographed New Orleans Mardi Gras. In 2006, Steidl published her book, POLISH SHADOW.

During residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony and the Blue Mountain Art Center, Solomon assembled and sequenced photographs and texts for CHAPALINGAS, a review of 30 years of her work. In 2003, Photographische Sammlung exhibited her pictures in Cologne, Germany. The accompanying book, CHAPALINGAS was published by Steidl in English, German and French with 201 full-page reproductions.

Solomon accepted a commission in 2010 to work in the project THIS PLACE which explores the complexity of Israel and the West Bank. She is printing for exhibition and sequencing a book of her images which will be published by MACK in May 2014.

In 2005, Solomon began to organize her extensive archive which came to the Center for Creative Photography in 2007. The Rosalind Solomon Archive contains a key set of over 1000 fine prints, unique books, and other art works, which together with Solomon’s original negatives, transparencies, personal papers, letters, business files, scrapbooks, video, audio tapes and other documentation chronicle her long and productive career.

Her images continue to be widely published and exhibited around the world.
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