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Jed Devine

Professor Emeritus of Art+Design

Jed Devine’s photographs are beautiful in terms of subject, technical mastery, and composition, and his imagery reflects an elegant and emotionally aware sensibility. His oeuvre conveys an uncommon point of view, revealing an eye that captures life’s constant ebb and flow. 

Originally trained as a painter, Devine began taking photographs in 1972 and became fascinated by the effects of light on objects and surfaces, and the sensuality that was possible with the platinum-palladium process. This sensuality is on full display in Devine’s only book, Friendship, a collaboration with the writer Jim Dinsmore, whose 64 images “form an extended sequence that moves from innocence to decay and return. The images emphasize the beauty and primacy of light while capturing the visual drama and irony of the Maine landscape.”

Devine also has a long-standing relationship with New York City, which is most evident in his portfolio of panoramic photographs celebrating New York bridges, which, though printed on a small scale, still capture the grandeur of the monumental structures spanning the Hudson and East Rivers. These historic images exist in dialogue with The Bethesda Terrace, which showcases the well-frequented romantic spot in the middle of Central Park. Devine was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for The Bethesda Terrace in 1985.

When Devine developed problems with his balance as a result of inner-ear issues, he switched to smaller cameras and ultimately to digital. The artist describes this forced change of format as a “disguised blessing”: “Everything was new again. More spontaneous, more flexible, more surprising.” The resulting eclectic collages veer gently into the realm of abstraction; at once concrete and elusive, they are, in the artist’s words, “wildly gregarious, and when they get together they often surprise with unexpected connections.”

Devine was born in Mount Kisco, New York, in 1944 and raised in Pleasantville, a Westchester County suburb. Devine cites Walter Hahn, his junior high school art teacher, as having an instrumental role in his art career decision: “I don’t know how it happened that a serious artist like Walter Hahn was teaching art at Pleasantville Junior High, but I was most fortunate to have him as a mentor and I’ve always been grateful to him.”

In 1967, Jed Devine graduated cum laude from Yale University with a BA in fine arts and began his career as a painter. In 1972, he returned to Yale to study design and photography and was awarded an MFA degree. He joined the Purchase College faculty in 1977. During his tenure at Purchase, several of his students went on to receive recognition as photographers, among them Adam Baer, Gregory Crewdson, Regina DeLuise, Andrea Modica, Deborah Mesa-Pelly, and Roger Newton.

Jed Devine’s photography is represented in many major museum, corporate, university, and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum; London; the International Center of Photography, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.