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Joseph Dankowski (American)
At a time when the very existence of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is in question it seems fitting that we offer a selection of the work of Joseph Dankowski, one of the first group of recipients of an NEA grant in photography in 1971. Born in Camden, NJ, he trained as a painter and sculptor but turned to photography after moving to New York in 1958. His most well-known body of work is his 50 print set of Manholes and Gutters (1969-1971) of which an almost complete group is offered here. The judges for the first NEA photography grants were Van Deren Coke, John Szarkowski and Alan Fern of the Library of Congress. Of the more than 400 applications only 23 grants were given out the first year ranging from $750 to $4,000 and Dankowski was one of only four photographers to receive an award in the highest amount. His Manhole photographs were part of the 1978 landmark exhibition Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960 at MoMA. Twenty-two of his photographs are in the MoMA permanent collection and another twelve are in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
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