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David Travis at the Art Institute to Retire

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 24, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

The Art Institute of Chicago announces the retirement of David Travis, the Chair of the Department of Photography, effective June 30, 2008. Travis began his career at the Art Institute as an assistant curator of photography in the Department of Prints and Drawings in 1972 and was a full curator in 1975, when the Department of Photography was officially established.

James Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute, said, "David Travis has had a long and extraordinarily productive career at the museum, and it is impossible to conceive of the department here without his imprint. As the leader of the department for more than 30 years, David has built a very deep collection, overseen the renovation of the photography galleries and vaults, developed a conservation program, and produced widely respected scholarship. We wish him the best as he moves on to devote more time to writing and lecturing."

Travis has organized and presented more than 150 exhibitions of photography at the Art Institute in his 36-year tenure, including exhibitions of the work of Walker Evans, André Kertész, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and Brassa├». He is perhaps best known for his landmark exhibitions On the Art of Fixing a Shadow, an exhibition of more than 400 photographs, and Starting with Atget: Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection. He has additionally prepared many thematic exhibitions, from images of "seas and skies" - featuring the work of Gustave LeGray, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Dodo Jin Man-to the photographic work of Chicago's own Institute of Design from 1937 to 1971.

Travis has also guest curated a number of exhibitions that have been shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For his special contributions to the advancement of awareness and understanding of French culture, he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1987. He has also been a guest scholar at the J. Paul Getty Museum and in 2002 he was named a "Chicagoan of the Year" by Chicago magazine. At the Edge of the Light: Thoughts on Photographers and Photography, on Talent and Genius, a collection of his lectures and essays, was published in 2003.


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