John Menapace

John Menapace (1927-2010) was raised in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania. After attending Yale University on an academic scholarship, he worked at Oxford University Press. In 1956 he moved to Durham to become Director of Design and Production at Duke University Press.

As a photographer, Menapace was self-taught but had fruitful exchanges with Ansel Adams, Minor White, and Nathan Lyons. Two Frenchmen, very different, were supremely important. Eugene Atget, the bittersweet Parisian photographer who died the year Menapace was born, was the North Star in his visual firmament and Marcel Duchamp his abiding intellectual inspiration. Menapace's own photographs reflected these two influences, some cerebral, formally elegant, and punfully witty, others lyrical and tender. He was a masterful printer whose black and white images were subtle and luminous.

In the 1970s, Menapace began to exhibit and to enjoy recognition both locally and beyond. Outside the darkroom he did much to advance the cause of photography. He initiated a studio course in photography at Duke University in 1972, and that same year Penland School of Crafts invited him to teach the first of four summer workshops. An exacting and generous teacher, Menapace mentored a community of North Carolina photographers, among them Elizabeth Matheson and Caroline Vaughan.

In 1984, the North Carolina Museum of Art gave Menapace their first show devoted solely to photography. In 2006, Huston Paschal curated a one-man show at the Gallery of Art and Design (now the Gregg) at North Carolina State University. The show was made into a book, With Hidden Noise, the title an homage to his beloved Duchamp. This book and Letter in a Klein Bottle, published by the Jargon Society, are exquisite collections of John Menapace's work.


Other works by: John Menapace