Richard Benson (b. 1943, Newport, RI) received a Master’s Degree from Yale University after serving three years in the U.S. Navy.
In 1966, Benson took a job as a printer, where he discovered that photography lay at the root of all modern printing trades. He has photographed extensively throughout the United States, initially with an 8 x 10 inch view camera and presently with a handheld high-end digital camera.
For Benson, the relationship between a picture’s content and the method by which that picture is made is paramount. Acknowledged as one of the world’s preeminent printers and a pioneer in printing technology, Benson currently makes color photographs using an inkjet printer configured to print a single image in successive stages. A skeleton of pigment is initially laid
on the paper, and color is gradually added each time it subsequently passes through the printer. Benson literally builds his photographs; a print can require the application of up to nine layers of pigment. By understanding the importance of ink on a page, Benson has developed a technique that results in deeply saturated, vivid images that actually look like the world from which they are taken.
Benson has been instrumental in revolutionizing the technologies and standards for photographic reproduction in ink through such noted publications as the The Face of Lincoln (1979), The Work of Atget (1981), Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company (1985) and over a dozen Lee Friedlander monographs. He is the co-author of Lay This Laurel with Lincoln Kirstein (1972) and A Maritime Album: 100 Photographs and Their Stories with John Szarkowski (1997), and has authored A Yale Album: The Third Century (2000) and The Printed Picture (2008). He has also printed photographically for Paul Strand, Walker Evans, and numerous other photographers.
Benson is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts publication grants with the Eakins Press, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. His work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, as well as numerous private collections.
Benson became an assistant professor at Yale University in 1979 and taught there on a part-time basis as an adjunct professor of photography until 2011, receiving tenure in 1996. He served as Dean of the University’s School of Art from 1996 until 2006.