Untitled, from the series The Somnambulist, 1973 © Ralph Gibson


The Black Trilogy 1970-1974: A Surrealist Adventure

Ralph Gibson, born in 1939 in Los Angeles, is one of the most emblematic figures of American photography. He started as Dorothea Lange´s assistant, then Robert Frank´s, but he soon moved away from reportage photography to develop a very personal photographic language, taking part in the blooming field of American fine art photography: superb prints with contrasted values and a heavy graphic charge, leading to mysterious, sensual, dreamlike getaways. He founded his own independent publishing house, Lustrum Press, in 1970 and christened it with three art books he created, showcasing his work in an uncompromisingly radical and demanding way. This came to be known as his "Trilogy": The Somnambulist (1970), Déjà-vu (1973), Days at Sea (1974).

For the first time in the history of the photography book, that he considers as an entity in its own right, Ralph Gibson sets out the rules of a new syntax: page layouts, pairing of photographs face to face, graphic and thematic echoes, etc., thus creating an original vocabulary for visual communication supporting his highly surrealist vision, infused with the teachings of European interwar modernity along with French literary and cinematographic cultures, Nouveau Roman and New Wave


The Trilogy can arguably be considered as an essential break from what had come before in the history of photography books. It soon became the model around which a generation of young photographers from the United States (Larry Clark, whose mythical 1971 Tulsa was published by Gibson, Danny Seymour, Mary Ellen Mark…) but also France (Yves Guillot, Arnaud Claass) gathered around and identified themselves with.

This exhibition displays, for the first time, all the prints that compose Ralph Gibson´s Trilogy, along with early drafts and various documents relating the genesis of this major work, many photographs of which became incomparable icons of American photography.

Gilles Mora


> CuratorGilles Mora
> ContentsApproximately 170 black and white photographs
> ConditionsFramed
> TransportFrom Montpellier (France)
> Rental Conditions-Flight and journey for the courier (for the installation and dismantling) from Montpellier
-Flight and journey for Ralph Gibson in business from New York
-Flight and journey for Gilles Mora from Bordeaux
> AvailabilityEarly 2018 - 2020




  • Pavillon Populaire - Montpellier, France
    October 18 - January 7 2018

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