Gail Buckland is an author, educator, curator and authority on photography. She is the author or collaborator on thirteen books of photography and history (see BOOKS page on her website).
A graduate of the University of Rochester, Buckland is Distinguished Visiting Professor and the former Olympus Visiting Professor of the History of Photography at The Cooper Union, New York City where she has taught since 1979. In 1991 she held the Nobel Chair in Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College. She has also taught at Columbia College, Chicago and Pratt Institute, Brooklyn.
The Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, where Buckland served as curator in the 1970s, awarded Professor Buckland in 2008 their prestigious J. Dudley Johnston Award for “major achievement in photographic criticism or history” and “sustained excellence.” While living and working in England, Buckland organized many exhibitions at the Royal Photographic Society, reviewed for the BBC and served as a consultant to Granada and BBC television.
Gail Buckland is the curator of numerous exhibitions including The Photographer and the City at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1977); the landmark Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography at the Pierpont Morgan Library (1979); Cecil Beaton War Photographs at the Imperial War Museum, London (1981); Shots in the Dark: True Crime Pictures at the Chelsea Art Museum (2003), based on her book and the Court TV special for which she was a consultant; and Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present (2009-2011) organized by the Brooklyn Museum (see EVENTS page on her website for the exhibition tour schedule).
Other exhibitions include Visions of Liberty (1985), marking the centennial of the Statue of Liberty, and Shanties to Skyscrapers: The Photographs of Robert L. Bracklow (1983), depicting the phenomenal growth of New York City, both held at the New-York Historical Society. One of the most popular exhibitions in London in the 1970s was From Today Painting is Dead: The Beginnings of Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She helped organize the exhibition, choose the 1000 exhibits, direct the design team and write the catalogue. The exhibition included photographs from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle; the André Jammes Collection, Paris; the Science Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum, London and other major European collections.
In 2010, Buckland celebrated the best in fashion photography. She wrote the Introduction to Albert Watson’s 40 year retrospective UFO (Unified Fashion Objectives), published by PQ Blackwell, in association with Abrams. She also wrote the Preface to Jerry Schatzberg’s collection of his fashion photographs, Women Then: 1954-1969, published by Rizzoli.
Professor Buckland’s approach to historical photography was specially remarked by many national reviewers in the critically acclaimed The American Century by Harold Evans (in which she was a collaborator along with author and historian Kevin Baker). The best-selling The American Century, with more than 900 exceptional photographs discovered by Buckland, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a Publishers’ Weekly Editors’ Choice. She again worked with Harold Evans and David Lefer on their book and WGBH television series, They Made America From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Hundred Years of Innovators published in the fall of 2004 by Little Brown. Both book and television series were supported by a prestigious Sloan Foundation grant.
Buckland spent seven years doing photographic research on the physical transformation of the United States—the building of the bridges, roads, tunnels, dams, water systems, railroads—all aspects of the infrastructure. She was in contact with historical societies and librarians in all fifty states and spent many months working in the National Archives and Library of Congress.
To mark the 50th anniversary of American Heritage magazine in 2004, the editors selected Gail Buckland, above all other writers and historians of photography, to choose the “Ten Most Indispensable Photographs” in American history.
In 2001, Al and Tipper Gore asked Gail Buckland and Katy Homans to assist them in compiling a photographic book depicting the changing face of the American family. Their book, The Spirit of Family, with photographs taken in the 1980s and 1990s by many of America’s leading photographers, was published by Henry Holt in 2002.
Gail Buckland served as photographic consultant to former Vice-President Al Gore on his PowerPoint presentation, documentary and book An Inconvenient Truth. She continues to advise the vice-president on photographic matters.