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Damme, Belgium

  • Accession Number:
  • Artist:
    Geesaman, Lynn
  • Date:
  • Medium:
    Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions:
  • Credit Line:
    Museum purchase with funds donated by James J. Brennan, Brennan Steel


About the Photographer

Geesaman, Lynn

American, b. 1938

Lynn Geesaman photographs public parks and formal gardens, often in Europe where meticulously designed landscapes are a centuries-old tradition. The settings Geesaman concentrates on are beautiful but exceedingly ordered versions of the natural world, shaped by human hands, and correspondingly her approach is highly formal, with an emphasis on composition. "I am not interested in nature itself," she has stated, "I am interested in shapes." In her photographs taken in Damme, Belgium in 1992, for example, uniform rows of slender trees become a series of parallel lines, running alongside a canal or converging at a far-off vanishing point. Meanwhile, in photographs of French gardens at Versailles and Fontainbleu, Geesaman highlights the contrast of different geometric forms in the landscape or she arranges the verdant foliage along a promenade into a series of layered planes.

When printing her work Geesaman uses a distinctive diffusion technique that suppresses detail, accentuating the formal qualities of her compositions. But this soft, diffused quality, which recalls the early Pictorialist style in photography, also imbues her work with a dreamlike appearance and a sense of tension. Depending on the image, her photographs have a soft, welcoming luminosity or a brooding, shadowy density, hinting at an emotional undercurrent beneath the rigorous formalism.

Lynn Geesaman graduated from Wellesely College with a degree in physics and went on to work in a laboratory in California. She began to take photographs in the 1970s after moving to Minnesota, where she still resides. In 1987 she traveled to France and Belgium for the first time to photograph gardens and estates. Although she has returned frequently to places throughout Europe, Geesaman has also photographed gardenscapes in the United States. In the 1990s she began photographing in color, in addition to black and white.