Photographer and educator Joe Deal, who was instrumental in the development of the landmark exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” in 1975 and was the subject of several solo shows, died June 18 at a hospice in Providence, Rhode Island. The cause of death was cancer, according to his gallery, Robert Mann Gallery in New York.
Born in Topeka in 1947, Deal became a photographer of the American landscape after studying at Kansas City Art Institute and receiving masters degrees in fine arts and photography at the University of Mexico. In 1975, his images were included in the influential “New Topographics” show at the George Eastman House alongside images by Robert Adams, Stephen Shore, Bernd and Hilla Becher and others.
Deal worked closely with curator William Jenkins on planning the show and the catalogue. In recognition of the exhibition’s continuing influence on contemporary landscape photography, the Eastman House revived the show last year, and it is currently touring the country.
Deal’s documentation of the American West continued over the coming decades. He was commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Trust to photograph the site and construction of the new J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles in 1984. In 1992, he had a solo show at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery called “Joe Deal: Southern California Photographs, 1976-86.”
One of his recent series, “West and West,” opened at the Rhode Island School of Design last year and was exhibited in 2010 at New York’s Robert Mann Gallery; it is currently on view at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson through August 1.
Deal managed to pursue photography while maintaining an academic career. After the success of “New Topographics,” he began teaching at the University of California/Riverside. In the 1980s and 90s, he served as professor and dean of the School of Art at Washington University in St. Louis. He served as Provost at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1999 to 2005. Last year, Deal received an award from the National Council of Arts Administrators, the St. Louis Beacon
Deal is survived by his wife, Betsy Ruppa, of Providence; his daughter, Meredith Ivy Deal, of Boston; and his father, Percy Deal of Albuquerque.
(Photo © Joe Deal/Courtesy of Robert Mann Gallery. “Albuquerque, New Mexico,” 1975.”)