About the Photographer

Welling, James

American, b. 1951

James Welling employs a wide variety of photographic tools and media. His abstract compositions are rendered as photograms, traditional gelatin silver prints, Polaroids, and digitally processed prints. His works challenge the technical and conceptual bounds of photography, while employing simple materials like crumpled aluminum foil, wrinkled fabric, and pastry dough. His series, “Degradés,” is comprised of abstract photograms made by exposing color photographic paper to various levels of light. In all of his works Welling filters the very tenets of photography, light, movement, and time, through his unique process, contributing to the continuous reevaluation of abstract photography.

Welling was born in 1951 and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. He studied drawing at Carnegie-Mellon University from 1969-1971 and transferred to the California Institute of the Arts where he completed his BFA (1972) and MFA (1974). In 1978, he moved to New York, where he embarked on a series of new projects that took simple materials as subjects. In 1992, Welling began a series entitled “Light Sources,” an open-ended project that marks his first full-fledged foray into digital photography. His work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is currently represented in many public collections, including those at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Welling is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1985). He lives and works in Los Angeles, where he is head of the photography department at University of California Los Angeles.