An-My Lê

|Photo: MacFound.org

Photographer An-My Lê was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1960 and arrived in the United States in 1970 as a refugee. Lê attended Stanford University, where she earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Biology and earned her Masters of Fine Arts at Yale University.

For her black-and-white and color photography Lê uses a large format camera, imitating Civil War photographers like Mathew Brady, Timothy O’Sullivan, and Alexander Gardner. As the MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program wrote of An-My Lê, “An-My Lê is an artist whose photographs of landscapes transformed by war or other forms of military activity blur the boundaries between fact and fiction and are rich with layers of meaning.”

One of Lê’s photographic collections, Small Wars, documents men in the forest of Virginia reenacting Vietnam War battles on the weekends. As Karen Irvine, the curator for An-My Lê’s exhibit, Under the Clouds of War, at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, writes, “Instead of addressing her subject by creating reportage images of actual shocking events, she photographs places where war is psychologically anticipated, processed, and relived.”  Lê’s motivation for Small Wars was to delve into “the Vietnam of the mind” through examining the effects of war and the variations in individual and communal war memories.

Lê is also interested in the glorification of war instead of the recollection of its destructive realities. Another of Lê’s photographic collections, 29 Palms, documented the 29 Palms military base of the California desert. Before soldiers are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, they train there for the actualities of war that they will face. As Irvine said of 29 Palms, “Lês pictures from 29 Palms in many ways subversively mirror the media’s sanitized view of the Iraq war. They present no blood, no gore, no cruelty, no shock; they simply show us preparations for battle.”

Lê has received many awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1997 and a 1996 fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2006 she had major exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, and the International Center of Photography Triennial. In 1997 she had a major exhibit at the Museum of Modern art in New York, and her work has also been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. She currently lives in New York and is a professor at Bard in the Department of Photography.

The Lannan Foundation gifted Lê’s gelatin silver print, 29 Palms: Captain Folsom, 2003-2004, to the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and to the Art Institute of Chicago the foundation donated Lê’s 29 Palms: Night Operations III, 2003-2004, and her 29 Palms: Mechanized Assault, 2003-2004. In addition, the Lannan Foundation made a grant to the Aperture Foundation in support of the publication, Small Wars, the first monograph on Lê’s work.

Artwork


29 Palms:Captain Folsom, 2003-2004

Size: 26 x 37 1/2 inches
Medium: Gelatin silver print

Recipient: Museum of Contemporary Photography


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> 29 Palms: Night Operations III, 2003-2004

Size: 26 x 37 1/2 inches
Medium: Gelatin silver print

Recipient: The Art Institute of Chicago


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> 29 Palms: Mechanized Assault, 2003-2004

Size: 26 x 37 1/2 inches
Medium: Gelatin silver print

Recipient: The Art Institute of Chicago



An-My Lê elsewhere on Lannan.org

Events Ashore by An-My Le Publication, (Art)
An-My Lê Small Wars and 29 Palms Exhibition, (Art)
An-my Lê: Small Wars Exhibition, (Art)
An-my Lê: Small Wars Monograph, (Art)
An-my Lê: Small Wars Exhibition, Marion Center, (Art)