Legendary photography scholar and curator Peter C. Bunnell died on September 20 after a long illness. He was 83 years old.
Curator, professor and museum director, Bunnell is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of photography.
“It is with great sadness that we celebrate the passing of our wonderful friend and colleague Peter Bunnell, one of the most essential figures in the history of photography and the history of our museum,” said James Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum in a statement. written statement. “No one did more than Peter to shape the field of photography or our collections at Princeton, but his national and international influence was also immense. He has taught, mentored and shaped generations of students, academics, curators and others. He was also one of the nicest people you could hope to know.
Born in 1937 in Poughkeepsie, New York, Bunnell received his undergraduate degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he met American photographer Minor White, whose classes fueled his passion for photography. He went on to earn a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography from Ohio University, where he studied with Clarence H. White Jr., the son of American photographer Clarence Hudson White. He went on to obtain an MA in Art History from Yale University in 1965.
From 1966 to 1972, Bunnell was curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, where he organized several major exhibitions, including the first study of the work of Clarence H. White and the seminal “Photography into Sculpture”, which opened up new avenues. to analyze and understand photography.
Bunnell then came to Princeton University, where he was the first David Hunter McAlpin professor of the history of photography and modern art. The post was created in 1971 by former Princeton University student and photography collector David McAlpin. This was the first endowed chair in the field in the United States. Bunnell retired in 2002.
In addition to his role at Princeton Faculty, Bunnell also worked at Princeton University Art Museum for over 30 years, first as a curator of photography and then as director of the museum from 1973 to 1978. He was also Acting Director of the museum from 1998 to 2000. Thanks to Bunnell’s visionary leadership, the Princeton University Art Museum holds one of the largest repositories of historical photographs in North America, including modern Japanese photography. . In 2011, the museum’s photography curatorial was named in honor of Bunnell.
Over the course of his long career, Bunnell has written and edited numerous books, including “Minor White: The Eye That Shapes,” which won the George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award from the Art Libraries Society of North America, “A Photographic Vision: Pictorial Photography, 1889-1923 “,” Edward Weston on Photography “,” Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952-1976 “and” Photography at Princeton “, published in 1998 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Princeton Collection of photographs from the University Art Museum.
Among other accolades, Bunnell was a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation in 1979 and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
A celebration of Bunnell’s life will take place at a later date.