logo > Articles > Artist Resources

William Garnet (1917 - 2006)

William A. Garnett, who expanded the boundaries of aerial photography with sweeping shots of sand dunes, swamps and fields, died on August 26, 2006. He was 89.

A former University of California at Berkeley professor, Garnett died of natural causes Aug. 24 at his home in Napa, according to his wife, Eula Beal Garnett.

Garnett was known for breathtaking images of unique land patterns he took over the years while piloting his Cessna. His most popular photographs were "Sand Dune Number 1 Death Valley" and "Snow Geese Over Lake Buena Vista."

In 1968, Garnett was hired by UC Berkeley as chairman of the department of design. He retired as professor emeritus in 1984.

Born in Chicago, Garnett moved to Pasadena with his family when he was 4 and became interested in photography as a teenager, building a darkroom with his brother at home. Garnett decided to shoot landscapes from the air after flying across the country following the end of World War II.

William Garnett took his first cross-country flight after serving as a United States Army Signal Corps cameraman during World War II. What he saw below inspired him to learn how to pilot a plane so he could photograph the American landscape. Garnett's aerial photographs resemble abstract expressionist paintings or views through a microscope. As landscapes, they do not have the conventional grounding of a horizon line. His images all reveal astonishing patterns that are not seen from the ground.

His books include "The Extraordinary Landscape" (1982), with an introduction by Adams, and "William Garnett Aerial Photographs" (1984). His three Guggenheim awards helped finance his work over a career that spanned half a century.

In 1955, Garnett had his first solo show at the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. That same year, his work was included in the influential Family of Man exhibition, curated by Edward Steichen, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

A major one person exhibition of his photographs was exhibited at The Silver Image Gallery from September 17 - October 12, 1980. In addition this exhibition his work has been exhibited in many other exhibitions around the United States and the world.

Additional information and images can be seen at the Getty Museum

If you notice any problems or have anything to add please contact us.


Copyright 2006 by Dan Fear and Art-Support.
All Rights Reserved.

Updated  February 22, 2014                                            Back to Top