About the Photographer
American, b. 1938
Bill Dane studied at the University of California, Berkeley, earning a BA in 1964 and an MA in in 1968, and for seven years he concentrated on painting. In 1970 he switced to photography and the following year attended workshops with Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander at Hampshire College. Dane's photographs home in on the odd curiosities that crop up in ordinary public environments, cultivating a sense of the unexpected and often creating humorous juxtapositions. The four black and white photographs by Dane in MoCP's collection date from his first decade as a photographer and are taken in various countries throughout the world. Depicting subjects such as repeating rows of flimsy chairs below the pyramids of Giza or a parking lot dwarfed by a cathedral in Florence, Italy, these images demonstrate Dane's visual acuity and his knowing use of pattern and scale. At the same time, the images have a psycho-political element that is not always evident, serving as meditations—sometimes ironic—on human social interactions and the ways we relate to our world. In this regard Dane is concerned to a significant degree with an American quest for national self-understanding; as Ann Swidler writes in the introduction to his monograph Inside and Outside America, "Dane, having explored the sensuous artifacts of America’s commercial civilization, moves outside the boundaries of American proper to look at how we look at the rest of the world. And then he moves back into America, addressing it’s surface mysteries." Continuing these pursuits, Dane began photographing in color in the 1980s and he has gone on to focus primarily on man-made artifacts. Increasingly, his color images emerge as perceptual conundrums, as Dane uses close-up framing and reflections in windows to create collisions of disparate visual information or to merge different viewpoints.