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University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography acquires the Jack Welpott Archive
Jack Welpott, United Fidelity Life, 1984 ©Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Gift of the Jack Welpott Legacy Trust.

TUCSON, AZ.- The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona Libraries announced that it has acquired the photographic archive of internationally renowned artist Jack Welpott.

“We are thrilled that the Jack Welpott Legacy Trust has chosen the Center for Creative Photography as the permanent home for the Welpott archive,” comments Katharine Martinez, the Center’s director. “Welpott was an accomplished photographer and a key member of the rich community of artists in the San Francisco Bay Area during the second half of the 20th century. His archive will allow researchers, curators and photographers to better understand his career, as well as his pivotal role as a teacher and mentor.”

Born in Kansas City, Kan., Jack Welpott (1923-2007) grew up in Bloomington, Ind. He learned about photography as a boy by watching his uncle in the darkroom, and began taking pictures by the time he was 12. Following service in the U.S. Army Air Forces, Welpott earned a bachelor’s degree in economics the University of Indiana, Bloomington on the GI Bill. He then studied photography under Henry Holmes Smith and painting under Leon Golub and Harry Engle, receiving a master’s degree in visual communication in 1955. Welpott completed a Master of Fine Arts in photography and painting in 1959, getting to know classmates Jerry Uelsmann and Van Deren Coke in the process.

Upon graduation, Welpott was hired by John Gutmann to teach photography in the Art Department at San Francisco State College, now San Francisco State University, where he made significant contributions to the field of photographic education over the next 33 years. In the early 1960s, when few photography courses were offered, Welpott established a graduate program, and taught one of the first history of photography courses at the college level. A number of his students have had successful photographic careers including Michael Bishop, Judy Dater, Harvey Himelfarb, Leland Rice, Catherine Wagner, and John Spence Weir.

Welpott’s photographs are found in some of the most important photographic collections in the world including the Getty Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

The Jack Welpott Archive is comprised of the photographer’s negatives, proof prints, contact sheets, correspondence, and documentation which chronicle Welpott’s more than 50-year career in photography. Additionally, the Jack Welpott photographic collection has been established with an initial purchase and gift of prints from the Jack Welpott Legacy Trust, bringing the Center’s current holding of his fine prints to fifty. Additional gifts and purchases over the coming years will enrich the Welpott holdings, ultimately numbering nearly 200 prints.

Norton Family Curator, Rebecca Senf, worked closely with the Welpott Trust to bring the archive and collection to the Center. Senf commented, “Our collection of prints, along with the rich archival holdings, will allow a deeper understanding of Welpott’s significant contributions to the medium. Variants, vintage prints, and lesser known subjects will offer scholars, curators and photographers a unique chance to appreciate the diversity and high level of accomplishment that marked Welpott’s long career.”

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