In Remembrance: Pirkle Jones, 1914-2009
Legendary photographer Pirkle Jones died on Sunday, March 15 at the age of 95. Noted for his documentation of the people and changing landscape of Northern California and his controversial series on the Black Panther Party, he was part of the first class of photographers to enter California School of Fine Arts after WWII. There, he studied with Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Minor White, all who later went on to help establish Aperture magazine in 1952.
Death of a Valley, a collaboration between Jones and Dorothea Lange which chronicled the disappearance of the Berryessa Valley in California as a result of the Monticello Dam, was published as a single issue of Aperture magazine in 1960. Jones later described the project as “one of the most meaningful photographic experiences of my professional life.”
In 2001, Aperture published Pirkle Jones: California Photographs. Featuring his portraits, landscapes, and architectural photographs, Jones documented everything from flea-market finds to some of the most important American social movements of the twentieth century. The same year, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art hosted the companion exhibition, Pirkle Jones: Sixty Years of Photographs.
Tim B. Wride, curator of the exhibition and author of the book essay, wrote:
“Pirkle’s visual legacy is one that can be characterized as masterful, meaningful, and ethical. His talent was singular, prodigious, and honorable. His eyes beheld an abundance of beauty, wisdom, curiosity, and commitment. His heart was open, enfolding, and comforting. A gift. “
Aperture also remembers Jones’s generosity of donating prints to the foundation to help raise funds. His dedication, vision, and love of the craft will be missed. For more information on his life and work, click here.