June 17 – August 13, 2023
Random Access is a collection of John T. Hill’s photographs taken over 70 years, showing the remarkable scope and empathy of his vision. Hill’s consistent focus over the decades has been what he calls “found compositions,” recording “chance happenings that strike a personal chord.”
From a street scene in São Paulo in 1958 to the interior of a Queens taxi in 1970, from John F. Kennedy at the podium of a 1960 rally to punks in Trafalgar Square, from Walker Evans’ home to recent landscapes and still lives, his work is democratic, curious, all-embracing.
Hill celebrates the contradictions and imperfections of his subjects, engages but never sentimentalizes, and is careful to never impose a singular interpretation onto the viewer. Here is none of the self-congratulation of “Look at what only I can see,” but rather an open invitation for the viewer, “This is what you are also capable of seeing.”
Hill says, “When I’m holding a camera, I am open to whatever I may encounter. I go out with an open mind and engage those images that seem most provocative. They are fragments of time intended to intrigue and excite the imagination.”
Walker Evans, iconic American photographer and friend of Hill, perhaps said it best, “The eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.”
John T. Hill, Kasbah Garden Café, New Haven, Connecticut, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.
John T. Hill, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1998. Courtesy of the artist.
John T. Hill, Farm Wife, Jackson County, Georgia, 1952. Courtesy of the artist.
John T. Hill
John T. Hill, photographer, graphic designer, and author co-founded Yale’s Department of Photography and was its first director of Graduate Studies. For nineteen years, he was executor of the Walker Evans estate, producing books and exhibitions on this iconic artist.
Hill has designed and co-authored books presenting the work of well-known artists, including W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, Alexander Calder, Norman Ives, Herbert Matter, Erwin Hauer, Peter Sekaer and William E. Crawford. Two of his book designs were selected for the AIGA 50 Books of the Year Award. In addition, Hill has written and designed a new book on Herbert Matter to be published by Steidl in 2023.
Exhibitions have often accompanied the books that Hill has designed and authored, including exhibitions on Walker Evans, Norman Ives, Herbert Matter and Peter Sekaer at venues in the United States and abroad.
Here, for the first time, Hill has focused on his own work, producing Random Access, a collection of photographs that show the scope of his vision. Hill’s consistent focus over seven decades has been on what he calls “found