Stephen Bulger Gallery

Alex Webb: The Suffering of Light

Alex Webb: The Suffering of Light

sancti spiritus, cuba by alex webb

Alex Webb

Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, 1993

Thursday, December 1, 2011Saturday, January 14, 2012


Toronto, ON Canada

“The Suffering of Light” is the gallery’s first solo exhibition by acclaimed American photographer Alex Webb and it is presented in conjunction with the APERTURE release of the monograph with the same name. This exhibition gathers some of Webb’s most iconic images, taken in the far corners of the earth, and chronicles his acute reflections of daily life with his remarkable sense of colour and composition.

Recognized as a pioneer of American colour photography since the 1970s, Webb has consistently created photographs characterized by intense colour and light. His work,with its richly layered and complex composition, touches on multiple genres, including street photography, photojournalism, and fine art, but as Webb claims, “to me it all is photography. You have to go out and explore the world with a camera.” Webb’s ability to distill gesture, colour, and contrasting cultural tensions into single, beguiling frames results in evocative images that convey a sense of enigma, irony, and humour. Featuring key works alongside previously unpublished photographs, “The Suffering of Light”provides the most thorough examination to date of this modern master’s prolific, thirtyyear career.

Alex Webb(b. San Francisco, 1952) became interested in photography during his high school years and attended the Apeiron Workshops in Millerton, New York, in 1972. He majored in history and literature at Harvard University, at the same time studying photography at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. In 1974, he began working as a professional photojournalist and he joined Magnum Photos as an associate member in 1976.

During the mid-1970s, Webb photographed in the American south, documenting smalltown life in black and white. He also began working in the Caribbean and Mexico. In 1978 he started to photograph in colour, as he has continued to do. He has published nine photography books, including Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds: Photographs from the Tropics, Under A Grudging Sun, Crossings, Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names, Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs of Cuba (with Rebecca Norris Webb), and, most recently, The Suffering of Light: Thirty Years of Photographs.

Webb received a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in 1986, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1990, a Hasselblad Foundation Grant in 1998 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007. He won the Leopold Godowsky Color Photography Award in 1988, the Leica Medal of Excellence in 2000 and the David Octavius Hill Award in 2002. His photographs have been the subject of articles in Art in America and Modern Photography. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe, in museums including the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the International Center of Photography, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, including a current show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, “Violet Isle” (with Rebecca Norris Webb). Webb, a member of Magnum Photos since 1976, lives in New York City with photographer Rebecca Norris Webb.

Quote: "I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner."