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HomeContents > People > Photographers > John Paul Caponigro

Dates:  1965 -
Born:  US, MA, Boston
Active:  US
American philosopher, teacher and photographer (Son of Paul Caponigro). His work is a philosophical combination of photography and graphic arts that creates images of startling beauty. His writings about the process are also thought provoking.

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John Paul Caponigro

John Paul Caponigro combines his background in painting with traditional and alternative photographic processes using the digital platform. He is respected internationally as one of the most prominent artists working with digital media processes. Exhibited internationally, his work resides in numerous private and public collections including Princeton University, the Estée Lauder collection, and the Smithsonian.
Caponigro's primary focus is the natural world. The wastelands he photographs are breathtakingly beautiful, yet the conspicuous absences found within them add an unusual complexity and social relevance when issues surrounding the environment, the medium of photography and its changing nature as well as his practice within it, and their mutual interaction are considered. Many viewers find his work profoundly spiritual.
Well respected as an authority on creativity and fine digital printing John Paul teaches both privately in his studio and internationally at prominent workshops including The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and The Maine Photographic Workshops. He lectures frequently at universities, museums, and conferences.
John Paul's work has been published widely. Reviews have appeared in numerous periodicals and books including Art News and The Ansel Adams Guide.
He is a contributing editor for Camera Arts and View Camera and a columnist for PhotoTechniques, Digital Photo Pro, and His book Adobe Photoshop Master Class (Adobe Press, 2003) is now in its second edition.
John Paul is one Canon's Explorers of Light and an Epson’s Stylus Pro. His clients include Adobe, Apple, Canon, Colorbyte, Epson, Gretag-MacBeth, LowePro, Kodak, and Sony.
In 2002, John Paul was named one of the 15 best artists of the past 30 years by Zoom Magazine, and received the Fellow award from the Maine Arts Commission.
(2006) - Used with permission
Selected solo exhibitions
2005 "Reflections", Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida
2005 "Reflections", Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, California
2004 John Michael Kohler, Art Space Gallery, Wisconsin
2003 "Moment of Grace", Gallery Saintonge, Missoula, Montana
2003 "Moment of Grace", Case Gallery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
2002 "Reflections", Carmel Photographic Workshops & Exhibitions, California
2002 Lewallen Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2002 Palmer Museum, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania
2001 "Meditations on Nature", Museo Archeologico Regionale, Val d’Aosta, Italy
2000 "Elemental Waterways", Maurítz Gallery, Columbus, Ohio
2000 "Elemental Waterways", University of Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri
2000 "Elemental Waterways", Wohlfarth Galleries, Provincetown, Massachusetts
2000 "Our Sacred Land", Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida
1999/2000 "The Language of the Land", Christopher Art Gallery, Chicago Heights, Illinois
1999 "Elemental", Northern Trust Bank, Delray Beach, Florida
1998 Heuser Art Center Gallery, Bradley University
1998 Michael Cross Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
1998 John Cleary Gallery, Houston, Texas
1998 The Cornell Museum, Delray Beach, Florida
1996 Newland Gallery, Houston, Texas
1994 "Digital Landscapes", Judy Youens Gallery, Houston, Texas
1994 Center for Creative Imaging, Camden, Maine
Selected collections
Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Pfizer Inc, New York, New York
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Princeton Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey
Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvannia State University
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
The Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine
The Pfeiffer Collection, Zurich, Switzerland
Estée Lauder Collection, New York, New York
J. Jill Collection, Boston, Massachusetts

A Call to Connection
January 15, 2006
There's something mysterious about many of the images you are about to see.
Unaltered images look altered.
Altered images look unaltered.
It's a sign of the times.
How do we know what we know?
Is seeing believing?
Is believing seeing?
Perhaps the questions are more important than the answers because they start a never-ending process of inquiry.
This work is a quest for perspective.
It's an inquiry into possibilities.
This work dissolves boundaries in an attempt to find new possibilities.
This is an important time for photography, the most influential visual medium in history.
We've seen more change to the medium in the past decade than we've seen in it's entire 150 year history.
Change is not new to photography.
It has always changed and been an agent for change.
Photography itself was an experiment and that experiment continues today as the medium evolves at an ever-increasing rate.
While the medium has limitations, and it's important to know what those limitations are, the practices we adopt in photography are not based on the medium and its historical evolution, but rather on us; what each individual and age seeks to do with photography.
I prefer that people assume my images have been altered, rather than assuming that they haven't been altered.
Every photograph is altered, to one degree or another.
You cannot separate the observer from the observed.
That not only means you can't separate me from my images, it also means you can't separate you from your experience of them.
Not only is it not possible to do this, I'm not interested in doing it.
I'd rather highlight and celebrate this involvement.
Photography is a mirror.
If you look deeply enough, you'll find it reflects everything.
In my work, I hope to point beyond the dichotomy between objectivity and subjectivity and towards intersubjectivity.
While it can be useful to consider things in isolation, they are never truly isolated; many things are inseparable.
We are not separate.
We're all in this together.
Time, space, light, all the things that this work is about are ultimately missing from the final product - the print.
Like so many things in my work, this conspicuous absence points to the limitations of the medium and the limits of our own perceptual faculties.
This absence points beyond the work to something greater.
On the other hand, what may at first seem absent may not be absent at all - me, you, us.
Ironically, on so many levels, what is not seen in these images may be the most important element of all.
It's obvious these images are concerned with beauty.
Beauty is regenerative and it inspires hope.
It may not be obvious that these images are concerned with the disappearance of beauty.
You may notice that there are no organisms in this work.
This is a deliberate omission.
Whether surrounded by a wealth of water or a lack of water, I photograph wastelands.
This work is not merely a document of vanishing places.
It is a call to connection.
It's a call to connection with nature - the matrix from which we are born, which sustains us while we are alive, and to which we return when we die.
When addressing the massive ecological issues facing us today, we are not talking about altruistically saving the earth, we are talking about preserving the habitability of our environment - our future.
In so many ways we shape our environment; we can do this positively or negatively.
This work is a call to incite conscientious creative interaction with our total environment.
This work is a call to connection with us.
If we feel that we are a part of nature, conscientious practices will no longer need to be legislated, they will simply happen.
If we feel that we are not insignificant, we will act to make our own positive contributions in our own unique and creative ways.
The Chinese have a saying, "May you live in interesting times."
We live in interesting times!
The Chinese also use a character that simultaneously means "crisis" and "opportunity."
This is what we are faced with today.
I urge you to reconnect.
I urge you to be a part of the solution.
© John Paul Caponigro (2006) - Used with permission  

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

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John Paul Caponigro 
One of the most interesting of the conceptual and spiritual photographers. 


The wit and wisdom.

"I find very often the best images take me by surprise. I feel a body of work is often strongest and most sincere when it challenges its viewers and its creator equally to consider new perspectives and ideas. I love this process of discovery; though it can be unsettling not to be able to offer an answer to the question, "Why this?" The simple answer "It is". can be enough. But when you can say "It is!" you know you‘re onto something, even if you don‘t know what you‘ve got hooked at the other end of the line. If the line is pulling hard, you have to reel it in."
"I‘m often asked, "Where did you get that idea?" I reply, "Where do ideas come from?" But I secretly wonder if I should ask, "How did that image find me?""
"It is tempting to ask the question "What does it mean?" of a given artwork. And it is an important and valuable question, but it is not the only question and it is not the only way of knowing something."
"My best work arises spontaneously. In it there are inevitable resonances with what occurs in my life. Interestingly, this work foreshadowed profound life – changing events that were coming. This work is about self—reflection, impermanence, purification, and liberation. These images are the artifacts of prayer."
"Sometimes the purely factual disguises or belies the "truth". These are fictions and, like poetry, they rely on metaphor and simile to bring revelation. They have only the power of their being to confirm their truths."
"While I make single images that stand on their own, I tend to work in series. The series acts as a container, binding together a number of similar themes and pointing the way to correlations with work in other series."
"With Ernst and Eliot, I share a similar interest in the structure and palette of nature, in the peculiar dichotomy that can be photographically forged between the literal and the abstract."
"Words, after all, function best with images when they deepen their essential mystery, allowing them to breathe, rather than explaining them away by imposing a rigid identity."
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