Ralph Gibson (born January 16, 1939) is an American art photographer. His images often incorporate fragments with erotic and mysterious undertones, building narrative meaning through contextualization and surreal juxtaposition. Gibson currently lives in New York and travels frequently to Europe and Brazil.
Ralph Gibson studied photography while in the US Navy and then at the San Francisco Art Institute. He began his professional career as an assistant to Dorothea Lange from 1961 to 1962 and went on to work with Robert Frank on two films.
Gibson has maintained a lifelong fascination with books and book-making. Since the appearance in 1970 of THE SOMNAMBULIST, his work has been steadily impelled towards the printed page. In 1969 Gibson moved to New York, where he formed Lustrum Press in order to exert control over the reproduction of his work. Lustrum Press also published Larry Clark's Tulsa (1971). To date he has produced over 40 monographs, current projects being State of the Axe published by Yale University Press in Fall of 2008 and NUDE by Taschen (2009). His photographs are included in over one hundred and fifty museum collections around the world, and have appeared in hundreds of exhibitions. He has worked exclusively with the Leica for almost 50 years.
Asked by the New York Times for his main sources of inspiration, Gibson recommended what he considered to be five seminal works: Eugene Atget's Vision of Paris, Walker Evans's American Photographs, Henri Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment, Robert Frank's Americans and Alexey Brodovitch's Ballet.