Works By Award-Winning Photographer And Novelist Wright Morris At Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center

October 9, 2002 – January 12, 2003

Stanford, CA, July 17, 2002—The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University presents 76 stark and evocative images by the uniquely expressive photographer and novelist Wright Morris (1910–1998). The exhibition, entitled Distinctly American: The Photographs of Wright Morris, surveys his work from 1938 through 1947, including poignant images from his native Nebraska. The exhibition is on view from October 9 through January 12.

Morris occupies a singular position in the history of American arts and letters. Recognized as one of America¹s most gifted authors, he is also respected for his photography and his pioneering work combining images and text. Morris wrote 33 award-winning books, received the National Book Award in 1956 for his novel Field of Vision and the American Book Award for fiction for his 1980 novel Plains Song: For Female Voices.

Distinctly American focuses on Morris as a photographer. These 76 gelatin-silver prints, largely drawn from agrarian life in and around a mid-western Nebraska "dirt farm" near Morris' childhood home, represent a way of life which, he observed, "has an existence now only in these photographs." The buildings and the objects within them—straight-backed chairs and the disparate contents of drawers—comprise a biography, not of an individual but a way of life now lost and nearly forgotten. Morris and his camera have captured and retrieved it for us, presenting an intricate portrait of rural existence on America's Great Plains.

This is the third in a series of exhibitions on distinguished American photographers that the museum at Stanford has undertaken as a result of an ongoing collaboration with Capital Group. The Capital Group Companies, Inc. and The Capital Group Foundation acquired the photographs in the exhibit from Morris just prior to his death in 1998. The fully illustrated exhibition catalogue includes essays by Ralph Lieberman, a professional photographer and friend of Morris, and by Alan Tractenburg, noted scholar on American society and culture and professor of art history at Yale University. In his essay, Tractenburg uncovers the relationship between Morris' photographs, his writings and his life. The exhibition and catalogue are sponsored by The Capital Group Foundation. Catalogues are available at the Cantor Arts Center Bookshop.

Alan Trachtenberg will speak about the work of Wright Morris on Thursday, October 10, at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The lecture, entitled Things on Film: Photography and the World's Body is presented by Stanford University's Department of Art and Art History in Annenberg Auditorium, Cummings Art Building.

Docents give free tours of Distinctly American throughout the exhibition on Thursdays at 12:15 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. No reservation is needed. For groups of 10 or more, call (650) 723-3469 to schedule private tours.