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Bruce Katsiff


Bruce Katsiff, in front of the Garber mural, James A. Michener Art Museum

PHOTOGRAPHER
BORN: December 10, 1945, Philadelphia, PA


".....his creative administrative intuition has reshaped the life of the arts in Bucks County." -- Emmet Gowin

Bruce Katsiff has experimented in a variety of subjects and styles through a career that has seen major technological change. He has spent a great deal of time going against the grain and mastering the rarified art of platinum printing. His images can be evocative, displaying hidden beauty in complex constructions. He uses many types of cameras to make his art, from 35mm to large format. He has most recently developed a series of large scale digital color work he calls Face Maps.

 

Born in Philadelphia, the son of a butcher and a seamstress, Katsiff found a personal connection to photography at Central High School, working on the student newspaper. At age 17, he had his first exhibit at the Guilded Cage Coffee House in Philadelphia. To please his parents, he entered the pre-law program at Penn State, but soon left to pursue a career in photography. Katsiff attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, earning a BFA, and later earned an MFA from Pratt Institute. He completed post-graduate coursework at Oxford University.

 

Katsiff's pictures have been exhibited in museums around the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Tainjan Institute, China, and American Arts Center, Exeter, England.

 

His career spans more than 40 years as well-regarded fine artist, community leader and museum professional. Katsiff's academic career began as a photography professor and, by the time he was 27, Chair of the Art and Music Department at Bucks County Community College. He was instrumental both to the creation and expansion of the Hicks Art Center and served BCCC for 17 years. Under his leadership the department earned accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. He established programs in woodworking, computer graphics, jewelry, foundry and glassblowing, and recruited five Guggenheim Fellows (Emmet Gowin, Nancy Hellebrand, Michael Smith, Larry Fink and George Krause).

 

 

From 1989 until his retirement in 2012, Katsiff served as Director/CEO of the James A. Michener Art Museum, working with the Michener's namesake and bestselling author. Katsiff turned a modest art center into a robust arts institution with an unparalleled collection of acclaimed regional artists including more than 2,500 works. In 1999, the acquisition of 59 paintings and a $3 million endowment from renowned philanthropists Marguerite and H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest made the Michener the primary repository for the finest public collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist art. The original building, a former county jail, was expanded five times to more than 63,000 square feet of space for exhibitions, research, publication, education, events, conferences, state-of-the-art preparation and collection storage to become the second most visited art museum in the Greater Philadelphia area, with more than 120,000 visitors per year. Katsiff even managed to broker a deal between the Michener and the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, for a traveling exhibit of major Renaissance masterworks, which had never left Europe, and included paintings by Botticelli and Titian.

 

Katsiff is the recipient of the 2012 Pennsylvania Governors Award for Arts Leadership & Service and also serves as an accreditation reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums.