March 23 – December 11, 2023
Glickman Library, Aperture Gallery
Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1905, Charles Clayton (“Todd”) Webb III took up photography in the 1930s after having lost his earnings as a stockbroker during The Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. He studied at the Detroit Camera Club while working for Chrysler in the export division and then served as a photographer for the US Navy during World War II, moving to New York City in 1945 after returning from the South Pacific. After the war, he was hired by Roy Stryker, former manager of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) photography project during the Great Depression, to photograph for Standard Oil and Fortune Magazine. Throughout the course of his long career as a photographer, Webb traveled the world photographing people and places in his distinctly straight approach to the medium. He and his wife, Lucille, retired to Maine in 1975, where he lived, photographed, and wrote until his death in 2000, at age 94. Frequently referred to as “an historian with a camera,” Webb’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in numerous museum collections.
The University of Southern Maine is fortunate to house a formidable collection of photographs by Webb, stemming from his time as the Art Gallery’s inaugural visiting artist in 1987, and his accompanying solo exhibition on the Gorham Campus—Todd Webb: Five Decades of Photographs. The show featured fifty photographs, ten from each of the following decades: the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s. After the exhibition, Webb asked the show’s co-curators, Juris Ubans, Director of the Art Gallery, and Rose Marasco, Art Department faculty member, to select photographs from each of the decades as a gift from him to the Art Gallery.
Todd Webb: Photography Across New York, New Mexico, and France focuses on a selection of Webb’s photographs as they engage with these locations. Showcasing the University’s Webb collection alongside loans from the Todd Webb Archive and Distinguished Professor Emerita Rose Marasco, this exhibition brings together many aspects of Webb’s place-based photographic approach. This is the fourth solo exhibition of Webb’s works at the University of Southern Maine; previous one-man shows were hung in 1980, 1987, and 2015.
— Dr. Libby Bischof, Executive Director, Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
The exhibition coincides with the showing of the Portland Museum of Art’s Outside the Frame: Todd Webb in Africa. The Museum’s exhibition presents a recently recovered photographic series by Webb, in which the United Nations commissioned him to document emerging industries and technologies in nine countries on the African continent. Together, the University’s Photography Across New York, New Mexico, and France and the Museum’s Outside the Frame create a singular opportunity to see multiple facets of Webb’s oeuvre here in southern Maine.