William Christenberry attended the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where he received BA and MFA degrees in painting (1958, 1959).
Following his move to New York City in 1961, Christenberry held a series of odd jobs until a conversation with Walker Evans at Time-Life inspired him to begin photographing his regional home. Evans and James Agee’s 1941 book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, featuring images Evans had taken in Christenberry’s own Hale County, had greatly influenced the younger artist.
The dialogue with Evans also laid the foundation for a lifelong friendship between the two men. Whether using photography, painting, drawing or sculpture, Christenberry’s interest in the themes and traditions of the rural American South translate into simple yet monumental iconography.
On both formal and conceptual levels, Christenberry’s work focuses on the prolonged study of a place. For example, in the process of documenting the evolution of a building and its surroundings over time, he provides a chronicle of that structure’s evolving identity. His work not only captures the essence of a particular region’s heritage, it is also a meditation upon the universal experience of stasis and change.
Gallery: Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
CV: Read more about the artist's career here