About the Photographer
American, b. 1965 Maryville, IL
Dean Kessmann has long been interested in examining the ordinariness of the spaces we inhabit. By offering unconventional views of standard architecture, such as the white box of the gallery, a university classroom, or his own apartment, Kessmann creates new, photographic spaces that approach the uncanny. By selectively focusing his camera on details, he abstracts three-dimensional architectural spaces into two-dimensional images that incite the imagination and reveal the complexities of perception.
His Architectural Intersections (2009) series includes images of the surface of architecture by offering fresh views of that which is in plain sight. By shooting photographs of the ceilings and walls of his post-War apartment in Washington, DC, and then turning them upside-down, he creates images of spaces that appear elemental and empty. The light casts soft shadows in the neutral interior, and the intersecting planes of walls and ceiling combine to create minimal compositions of shape, color and line. Kessmann confines himself to strict parameters and through editing and cropping creates images that explore the limits of representational space. Like Aaron Siskind’s pictures of tar markings, or Harry Callahan’s close-ups of seaweed or his wife Eleanor’s body, Kessmann’s photographs have bold graphic form and approach abstraction, but ultimately remain true to their representational subject. This tension between representation and abstraction—between seeing and knowing —is an engaging condition of his artwork.
Dean Kessmann has been included in numerous exhibitions, including at the Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA (2015); the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, St. Louis, MO (2014, 2008); the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE (2013); and the Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL (2010). His work is held in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; and Light Work, Syracuse, NY; among others. He is currently an Associate Professor of Photography at George Washington University in Washington, DC.