Nevada Museum of Art

Reno, NV



William Dassonville: California Photographer (1879-1957)

December 16, 2000 - February 4, 2001


Classic views of San Francisco, Yosemite Valley, Northern California and the Sierra Nevada will be presented in William E. Dassonville: California Photographer (1879-1957), an exhibit of 45 photographs on view at the Nevada Museum of Art (NMA) from December 16, 2000 through February 4, 2001. The exhibition presents a selection of photographs that document William E. Dassonville's career and his influence on Northern California's artistic community during the early twentieth century. Many of the photographs on exhibit will be seen by the public for the first time. The exhibit is organized by the Mills College Art Museum.

Throughout Dassonville's career, his works were widely published and won numerous prizes and honors. Beginning as a portrait photographer, he counted many prominent artists among his friends and clientele, including John Muir, William Keith, and Maynard Dixon. Later, he photographed the California landscape, capturing views of its dramatic coastline and rolling hills, as well as the Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. His images hung alongside the work of Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence H. White, Gertrude Kasebier and other renowned artists of the Photo-Secession and the Arts and Crafts movement. In the early 1920s, Dassonville shifted his attention to the San Francisco waterfront and bay, skyline, industrial towers, and skyscrapers while continuing to create superbly crafted photographs with charcoal, black and silver papers.

In the exhibition's accompanying catalogue, William E. Dassonville, California Photographer (1879-1957) (Nevada City, CA: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1999), photographic historian Peter Palmquist writes: "Dassonville's photographic legacy is considerable, including an outstanding body of fine photographs in the pictorialist tradition. He was also an innovative craftsman and self-taught chemist, and a perfectionist who developed and marketed his own line of photographic paper: Charcoal Black. The paper was prized by the most demanding photographers, among them Ansel Adams, who later lamented that he never again "found a paper that had the particular qualities of Dassonville's Charcoal Black."



The exhibition is accompanied by a 112 page catalogue titled William E. Dassonville, California Photographer (1879-1957) which includes an essay by Peter Palmquist, as well as 60 illustrations including 47 color and duotone plates. The book documents Dassonville's life and career in addition to an exhibition history and a listing of his published articles and photographs.

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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/27/11

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