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Ralph Gibson (American, b.1939)


Birth Place: Los Angeles, CA USA


Who is photographer Ralph Gibson?

Ralph Gibson is an American Photographer. He is best known for his surrealist, black and white photographs, often with an erotic or unnerving bent to them. He has produced over ten photography books since the 1970s, the latest being the infamous Self-Exposure published in 2018. His work is held in many esteemed public collections including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the MoMA of New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. 

An extremely decorated and celebrated photographer, Gibson has been awarded an NEA grant three times, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has an honorary doctorate from Ohio Wesleyan University. In 2018 he was appointed Chevalier de la Legion D’Honneur from the French Government. Gibson continues to produce vital and provocative today, even though he is well into his eighties. 

What kind of art does Ralph Gibson make?

Ralph Gibson makes black and white photographs, often of an erotic or mysterious nature. His photographs typically have some kind of narrative element, using surrealist juxtapositions to tell strange and unnerving stories that are often only revealed after a third or fourth viewing. Bookmaking has become as much a part of his process as picture taking, ever since the production of his first famed book, The Somnambulist in 1970. This was put out by his own publisher, Lustrum Press, which has not only published his work, but also famously Larry Clark’s seminal work Tulsa (1971). 

How did photographer Ralph Gibson get started?

Ralph Gibson was born in California to a modest family. He enlisted in the Navy in 1956, which culminated in him attaining the rank of Photographer’s Rank in 1960. He left the Navy in the early 1960s, continuing his study at the San Francisco Art Institute until 1962. After, he worked as an assistant to the legendary Dorothea Lange for two years, then as an on-set assistant for the famed Swiss filmmaker, Robert Frank for two films. Sometime after that Gibson set up his own studio, eventually producing The Somnambulist in 1970, which announced the young photographer to the world. It was both critically and commercially successful. 

How much are Ralph Gibson photos worth?

Ralph Gibson prints are typically worth between a thousand and five thousand dollars. Currently, the highest price for a single Ralph Gibson photograph is $3,487.31 for Nude Woman Portrait (2013). It is a prototypical Gibson, a nude woman adjusts a lamp, it’s light casting dramatic shadows while her actions create an almost imperceptible blur of movement. Gibson’s pieces are a great addition to any collector’s library, they’re instantly recognizable for their dynamic lighting and subject matter.

Where to buy Ralph Gibson photographs for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Ralph Gibson photographs?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.

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