Artwork, 1951-1984 and undated, bulk 1950s

Scope and content:

An accomplished artist and draftsman, Gedney kept much of the artwork dating from his student years at the Pratt Institute. Formats in this series include small spiral-bound sketchbooks, loose pages of sketches and drawings, larger sketchpads, and single pieces of art, the latter chiefly oils on simple cardboard. The dominant media are pencil and ink, but there are charcoal sketches, watercolors, some screen prints, a few graphic prints, and mixed media. Unless otherwise noted, subjects are mixed, and often include human figures, faces, interiors and interior details, city street scenes, plant studies, and animals, chiefly cats. There are only a few nude sketches. Most artwork is representational, but a few drawings and prints are abstract. In many cases, the style and subject content resonate quite clearly with Gedney's photographic compositions.

The series is arranged in rough chronological order, with almost all of the materials dating from the 1950s. Many of the items are undated and unsigned. The earliest date refers to a Harper's bazaar newspaper issue with four engravings.

There are a few pieces of art by others, including a drawing of an iris by New York illustrator Anita Lobel, incribed to Gedney, and a small crayon drawing of Bob Dylan by her young daughter, Adrianne, circa 1962. There are few other pieces whose authorship cannot be attributed with certainty.

Photographs of artwork by Pontormo, Kirchner, Schad, Beckman, and others, chiefly taken from various publications, are found in the Contact Sheets, Proof Prints, Film and Test Development, and Slides series. Gedney seems to have used these images for his own inspiration as well as for teaching photography and design.

The series is rounded out by a large, fabric-covered scrapbook handcrafted by Gedney. About half the scrapbook is empty, but 16 pages are filled with carefully selected and mounted color reproductions of paintings, illustrations, clippings, photographs, and one beauty advertisement. The compositions and themes on each page resonate with Gedney's photographic work: they include family group portraits through the ages, and images of crucifixions, spectators, crowds, intense facial expressions, and ancient decorative motifs. The album concludes with two large black-and-white portrait reproductions of three Gedney family members.

Other creative work by Gedney is found in the Book Projects Series, where there are handmade books illustrated with line drawings showing layout designs, dimensions, and instructions for creating books.

Serving as witness to Gedney's constant engagement with the work of other artists, the journals in the Writings and Notebooks series are filled with quotes and thoughts on art and artists.

Finally, other artwork found in the collection consists of photographic images of folkloric wall paintings unique to Benares, India; they appear in abundance in the Benares proof prints, large prints, and test prints groups, and reappear - in rare color - in the Slides Series.


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Collection restrictions:

Portions of the collection are closed pending digitization.

Negatives and original audiovisual media are closed to use. Viewing and listening copies are available upon advance request.

Please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this collection.

Use & permissions:

The copyright interests for Gedney images in this collection are held by Duke University. However, some commercial work, audio recordings, and materials by other creators, may carry other copyright considerations. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, or contact the Rubenstein Library.

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