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Jerome Liebling: 1924-2011

July 28, 2011

Stan Sherer sent me this obituary of Jerry Liebling. We consider him the man responsible for creating a photography community here in the Western Mass. hills.

Jerry was my bucket of cold water. I would show him my newest work and, if there was the slightest lack in my pictures, he would throw that bucket of water in my face. He was my wake-up call. You didn’t get a pulled punch from Jerry.

I am posting from abroad and the server won’t let me upload any pictures. I’ll work on improving this situation later.

Below is an excerpt of the Hampshire College obituary.

In Memoriam: Jerome Liebling

April 16, 1924 – July 27, 2011

The Hampshire College community mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus Jerome Liebling, who died Wednesday at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Professor Leibling founded Hampshire College’s film, photography, and video program. He was already a photographer and filmmaker of international renown when he came to Hampshire from the University of Minnesota in 1969, before the College had even opened its doors.

He remained at Hampshire until his retirement in 1990, with a leave in academic year 1976-77 to serve as Yale University’s First Walker Evans Visiting Professor of Photography.

Images by Jerome Liebling tell a distinctly American story. He created intimate and deeply honest portraits, capturing the dignity of ordinary people living their lives. He documented both the urban and the rural landscape, remaining true both to the subject and to his artistic vision.

His former students, many of whom have gone on to be among the nation’s leading filmmakers and photographers, have praised Liebling for his humanity, intelligence, and perception as well as the power of his influence on their work. Ken Burns has said that his mentor’s “thumbprint is suffused on every frame” of his films.

“With Jerry’s death, the world has lost a gifted photographer and filmmaker, and Hampshire College has lost a beloved teacher, mentor, friend, and colleague,” said Sigmund Roos, chair of the College’s board of trustees. “He had a profound impact on Hampshire, and on the education of a whole generation of filmmakers. This is a personal loss for me and many others at the College. I will miss him dearly.”

“Jerome Liebling and his camera saw into the souls of America. He is irreplaceable. We all mourn his personal and professional loss,” said Alan Goodman, vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty.

Leibling’s work is in the permanent collections of major museums throughout the world. His photographs have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and many other museums and galleries. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships and had many monographs of his work published. Among his many awards and honors was first prize in the 1993 New England Film Festival for Fast Eddie and the Boys, a film he produced with two former students, Hampshire graduates Roger Sherman and Buddy Squires.


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