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Basic data

Contemporary artist Bill Jacobson is an American photographer. He is best known for his blurred and atmospheric photographs in which he explores issues of perception, memory, as well as the possibilities of representation in photography.

  • Born: 1955
  • Place of birth: Norwich, Connecticut, USA
  • Nationality: American
  • Studied at: Brown University, San Francisco Art Institute
  • Era: Contemporary art



Bill Jacobson was born in Norwich, Connecticut in 1955. He developed an interest in photography at an early age. In 1977, he graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and then furthered his knowledge at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he graduated in 1981.

In the 1980s, Jacobson began making out-of-focus portraits in which the subject's face was rendered unrecognizable. This technique, along with a muted color palette, gave his works a dreamlike quality and a deep emotionality. During the 1990s and the height of the AIDS crisis, these blurred images were interpreted as a metaphor for loss, transience, and uncertainty. In the 2000s, Jacobson began to experiment further with sharper images and different subjects and techniques, but continued to remain true to his central themes of humanity, identity, and transience.

Bill Jacobson's work is represented in many major collections, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His work has been exhibited internationally. He now lives and works in New York.



  • 10.09.2020 - 10.01.2021 Keeper of the Hearth – Houston Center for Photography, Houston. 
  • 18.05.2019 - 06.10.2019 Contemporary Sublime: The Photographic Collecting of William G. Butler - Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs.
  • 19.01.2019 - 26.05.2019 Recent Acquisitions: Photography and Abstraction - Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence.
  • 30.07.2018 - 09.09.2018 Vom Verschwinden und Erscheinen - Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung, Berlin.
  • 17.03.2018 - 05.05.2018 Bill Jacobson and Giorgio Morandi: Photographs and Drawings - Robert Morat Gallery, Berlin.
  • 16.03.2017 - 26.05.2017 Bill Jacobson. figure, ground -  Julie Saul Gallery, New York.



  • 2017: Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, New York.
  • 2012: Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York.
  • 1995: Photographer's Fellowship, Aaron Siskind Foundation, New York.
  • 1994: Photographer's Fellowship, Foundation for the Arts, New York.



  • Bill Jacobson. 945 Madison Avenue, picture bookSome Planes Press (Publ.), New York 2017.
  • Bill Jacobson. figure, ground, exhibition catalog, Bill Arning, Robert Glück & Barbara Stehle, New York 2017.
  • Place (Series), picture book, Bill Jacobson & Maureen N. McLane, Santa Fe 2015.
  • 48 Great Jones St, picture book, Bill Jacobson & Chris Wallace, New York 2014.
  • A Series of Human Decisions, picture book, Bill Jacobson & Ian Berry, Seattle 2009.