Regarding my post on underappreciated photographers, Gabrielle de Montmollin observed that only one woman made American Photo’s list. Among the endless list of women who deserve more attention, I’d like to highlight JoAnn Verburg. I first became aware of JoAnn when I saw her show at pARTs Gallery (now the Minnesota Center for Photography) in 1994. It remains my all-time favorite local exhibition. The salon-style show consisted of hundreds of pictures of JoAnn’s husband, the poet Jim Moore. In his review of the show in ArtForum, Vince Leo wrote:
Like Alfred Stieglitz’s portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe or Harry Callahan’s pictures of his wife Eleanor, Verburg’s photographs of Moore describe the dynamics of their relationship in photographic terms. But instead of Stieglitz and O’Keeffe’s heroic individualism or the Callahans natural harmony, Verburg and Moore’s photographic encounters are about the furtive pleasures available to those who aren’t afraid to look or be looked at.
But this has hardly been Verburg’s only achievement. She first made her name in the 1970’s with her participation (along with Mark Klett and Ellen Manchester) in the highly influential Rephotographic Survey Project.
Despite having showed at Robert Mann, Pace/McGill, MOMA and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, JoAnn doesn’t emphasize self-promotion. As a recent article mentioned, “She doesn’t have a bibliography, a biography or a resume, so I can’t look up where all her work is. She doesn’t know either.”
But the good news is that this is all about to change. In 2007 JoAnn will be having a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. You can read about it here. (If you are a collector, I recommend buying now!).