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Amanda Means (born 1945) is an American artist and photographer. She currently lives and works in Beacon, NY.

Early life and educationEdit

Means was born in 1945 in Marion, New York. She grew up on a farm in Upstate New York. The region consisted largely of family-owned small farms that produced the state's apples, dairy, and vegetables. "Our cobblestone farmhouse, built in the early 1800s, was constructed with small palm-sized stones naturally rounded by water from the shores of Lake Ontario,"[1] she has said, adding that she slept in a treehouse in the summer, and spent much time alone in the woods and fields. This time alone in nature as a child would create within her a deep and lifelong connection to nature, influencing her early black and white landscapes and eventually her camera-less images of plants and leaves.[1] Means left the family farm to study art in New York City, where she was influenced by painters of the Abstract Expressionist Movement such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko. Her transition from rural to urban environment was intensified by her family's loss of their farm and the eventual death of her father.[1] She received a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University in 1969 and a Master of Fine Arts in photography from University at Buffalo (Visual Studies Workshop) in 1978. In 1976 she attended the Aperion Workshops and studied under Ralph Gibson.


"Water Glass 2, 2004 (Variant)" by Means

Known for her camera-less images, Means often uses a technique similar to the darkroom process which creates photograms, but is uniquely her own. She uses objects such as leaves, light bulbs, and water glasses, instead of photographic negatives, to produce her prints. For both her Leaves and Flowers series (both ongoing, begun in the 1990s) she places the botanical subject on a piece of glass in the head of the photographic enlarger. The enlarger light passes through the organic matter and onto the paper in a way that makes them seem to glow. Traditional photographic techniques rely on reflected light in both camera and darkroom, but her technique avoids light reflection altogether. The effect is that the prints seem to emanate their own light, aligning them with the light-emitting pigments of oil painting.[1] "The resulting prints are tonally negative which gives the flowers a mysterious inner glow, because the light is coming through the petals, from within the flower," said Means of this technique.[2] She used similar techniques for her subsequent Water Glass and Light Bulb series.[3] Scott Hall describes the effect of these techniques: "Her transformation of ordinary household objects into sublime Minimal art is not only evident in the bulb series, but also in the black and white prints of water glasses...Sweaty, chipped and scratched vessels monumentally fill the frame, revealing the beauty in the mundane."[4]


Means has made black and white prints for clients Robert Mapplethorpe, Roni Horn, and the Smithsonian Institution. She was awarded a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship in photography.[5]

She has taught at various universities and art schools including State University of New York at Plattsburgh (1989); Emily Carr College of Art, Vancouver, BC, Canada (1992); University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada (1992); St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY (1999); International Center of Photography, NY (2000); Parsons The New School for Design, NY (2001); University of Memphis, Memphis, TN (2001); Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY (2002).[6]

Means has been Trustee of the John Coplans Trust in Beacon, New York since 2003.[7]

She has been a contributing editor for Bomb magazine since 1984.[8] Her early nature landscapes,[9] and early black and white photographs of leaves,[10] were published in the magazine's portfolios.

Publications with contributions by MeansEdit

  • Flora. New York: Graphis, 2002. ISBN 1-931241-09-0.[11]
  • Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Processes by Lyle Rexer. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002. ISBN 0-8109-0402-0.[12]
  • The Unseen Eye: Photographs From The Unconscious by W.M. Hunt. New York: Aperture, 2011. ISBN 978-1-59711-193-5.[13]
  • The Poetic Species by Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass. New York: Bellevue Literary Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-934137-72-7.[14]

Solo exhibitionsEdit


Means' work is held in the following collections:


  1. ^ a b c d Means, Amanda (Spring 1997). "Memory of Loss" (59). BOMB Magazine.
  2. ^ Hirsch, Robert (2008). Light and Lens: Photography and the Digital Age (First ed.). Oxford: Focal Press/Elsevier. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-240-80855-0.
  3. ^ Gomez, Edward M. "Black and White and Filled With Light". Ricco Maresca. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  4. ^ Hall, Scott (Sep 11, 2008). "In Focus: Amanda Means". The New York Times Magazine.
  5. ^ "Amanda Means". Guggenheim Foundation. Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved Apr 7, 2017.
  6. ^ "Polaroid Party - Splash".
  7. ^ Solway, Carl. "John Coplans Photographs 1984-2000". Carl Solway Gallery. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Ed. Sussler, Betsy (Spring 1983). "New Mexico by Amanda Means". BOMB Magazine (5).
  10. ^ Ed. Sussler, Betsy (Winter 1985). "Untitled #6 by Amanda Means". BOMB Magazine (11).
  11. ^ Pederson, B. Martin (2002). Flora (First ed.). New York: Graphis Inc. pp. 18–19, 22–23. ISBN 1-931241-09-0.
  12. ^ Rexer, Kyle (2002). Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Processes (First ed.). New York: Harry N. Abrams. pp. 140–141. ISBN 0-8109-0402-0.
  13. ^ Hunt, W.M. (2011). The Unseen Eye: Photographs From the Unconscious (First ed.). New York: The Aperture Foundation. pp. 158–159. ISBN 978-1-59711-193-5.
  14. ^ Wilson, Edward O. (2014). The Poetic Species (First ed.). New York: Bellevue Literary Press. pp. Cover. ISBN 978-1-934137-72-7.
  15. ^ Feeney, Mark (1 June 2008). "Another green world" – via The Boston Globe.
  16. ^ "Looking at Leaves Press Release - Harvard Museum of Natural History". Archived from the original on 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  17. ^ Remnick, David, ed. (October 8, 2001). "The Short List" (PDF). The New Yorker.
  18. ^ Hall, Scott. "In Focus - Amanda Means".
  19. ^ McQuaid, Cate. "Black-and-white-world." The Boston Globe, January 21, 2009.
  20. ^ "Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville VA - Community art and outreach".
  21. ^ "Joseph Bellows Gallery - Amanda Means - Images". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  22. ^ "Lightbulb 102 (CP) - LACMA Collections".
  23. ^ "Permanent Collection". SF MoMA.
  24. ^ "Permanent Collection". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
  25. ^ "Permanent Collection". Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
  26. ^ "Permanent Collection". Whitney Museum of American Art.
  27. ^ "Permanent Collection". Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
  28. ^ Avon Products, Inc. (1999). Know Your Art: Avon Products, Inc. Corporate Art Collection Catalogue. Avon Products, Inc. pp. 69–70.
  29. ^ Hunt, W.M. (2011). The Unseen Eye: Photography from the Unconscious. Aperture. p. 158. ISBN 9781597111935.
  30. ^ "Permanent Collection". National Gallery of Canada.
  31. ^ Tedford, Catherine (2000). Photographs at St. Lawrence University. Canton. p. 156. ISBN 0-933607-03-2.

External linksEdit