For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2002

Up Close: Abstract Photography by Howard Bond

May 18-August 11, 2002
Works on Paper Gallery

Howard Bond
Howard Bond (American, born 1931)
Car Hood I, Ontario, 1984
gelatin silver print

Ann Arbor artist Howard Bond began photographing in 1945, at the age of fourteen. Working part-time in a wedding and portrait studio, Bond received a bachelor's in music in 1953. This was followed by a master's degree in music in 1958 and a master's in mathematics in 1961. It was after these achievements, however, that Bond began his serious photographic education, largely through experimentation and involvement in various workshops (including those taught by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Brett Weston). Gradually, Bond's photographic interests began to dominate his career, and he devoted himself entirely to photography in 1979.

While best known for his striking images of churches, bristlecone pines, and landscapes, Howard Bond has also created a body of work that borders on the abstract. Including works which date from 1983 to 2002, this exhibition takes an in-depth look at this fascinating subset of Bond's creative output. In twenty-two works, the viewer will be engaged by Bond's close-up, detailed photographs of a wide variety of objects, from ice forming to details of architecture from a mining company. The result is a fascinating and unsung body of work that operates both photographically and abstractly at the same time.

In his better-known imagery of mountainous landscapes or quiet church interiors, there exists an exceptional sensitivity to the way in which light caresses and reveals the object. This same sensitivity is apparent in Bond's more abstract compositions, where light is often as much a subject as what is being pictured. In these abstract compositions, Bond explores the often overlooked or forgotten aspects of everyday existence. He finds beauty in the patterns caused by cracking and peeling paint on car hoods in junkyards. He also responds to the same sort of patterns and lines formed in nature as ice freezes. Whether occurring in nature or as the result of nature's hand on man-made objects, designs such as these are captured by his meticulous eye for detail. Sometimes they are left as the camera found them, while in other instances, Bond manipulates the images, heightening and stressing certain inherent aspects. In all his work, and in these abstracted compositions especially, Howard Bond elevates from obscurity the often-overlooked detail, forcing his viewers to contemplate the world in which they live.

Sean M. Ulmer
University Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art