Ralph Gibson studied photography while in the US Navy and then at the San Francisco Art Institute. He began his professional career as an assistant to Dorothea Lange and went on to work with Robert Frank on two films. Gibson has maintained a lifelong fascination with books and book-making. Since the appearance in 1970 of his book entitled “The Somnabulist” his work has been steadily impelled towards the printed page. His photographs are included in over one hundred and fifty museum collections around the world and have appeared in hundreds of one man exhibitions.
Gibson’s awards include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (USA), as well as the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Lucie Lifetime Award and the Silver Plum Award. He is a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Maryland and Ohio Wesleyan University.
In 2010 he collaborated with Lou Reed on the film “Red Shirley” which has been screened in film festivals throughout Europe and North America.
Gibson has maintained a relationship to the guitar since his earliest teens. Recently he has incorporated his photographs and musical compositions into film and live performances. He has performed “Typography” and “One Way” with the wind instrumentalist Jon Gibson (no relation) in New York and in 2011 again collaborated with Jon Gibson on a performance entitled “Mask” in conjunction with the publication of his book of the same title.