Ralph Gibson, born in Los Angeles, California on January 16, 1939, studied photography in the US Navy from 1956-60. After he graduated, he studied one more year at the San Francisco Art Institute and thereafter became an assistant to the photographer Dorothea Lange until 1962.
In 1966, Ralph Gibson moved to New York, where he established his own publishing house, "Lustrum Press", in which he published both his own photographs and those of his friends. Because of this, his publishing company became a platform that showed the way to the future for the American avant-garde photography of his time. From 1967-69, Gibson worked together with Robert Frank on the films "Me and My Brother" and "Conversations in Vermont".
In 1970, his photo volume "The Somnambulist" appeared, three years later "Déjà Vu", and in 1974 "Days at Sea". What is particularly innovative about these three books is that the significance of individual pictures takes a backseat to the concept or the photographic story being told. The individual photographs create a new, large picture through their interaction, as in a mosaic. This takes place first in the observer, and is completed through his/her individual associations.
Ralph Gibson’s photographs distinguish themselves through his preference for wide-angle lenses, the display detail that rendered the image abstract, and the coarseness of many of his black-and-white photographs. He uses light and shadow very deliberately; in addition, his markedly strong light-dark contrast is noticeable. In his later work, he is turning more towards color photography as well.
Gibson’s favorite subject is the female body – he takes pictures of details, nudes, faces. Many of his photographs have an unreal-surreal effect, to some extent erotic and mysterious, but always ambiguous. His photographs are still displayed in numerous exhibitions and are published in photo volumes. Ralph Gibson lives and works in New York.