Keith Davis – The Graveyard Shift
Keith F. Davis has worked as a photographer for half a century and is represented in a number of public and private collections. He has worked with a variety of formats, from 35mm to the 8×10-inch view camera. He continues to shoot film and to make gelatin-silver prints in the darkroom. In addition, beginning in 2018, he began serious use of digital image capture. In recent decades, his prime subjects have included the natural and cultural landscapes, 19th century funerary art, the battlefields of World War I, and the symbolic language of American state capitols.
These pictures are from his extensive series of the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, in Genoa, Italy. Davis first visited this site about twenty years ago, and returned several more times to photograph. Opened in 1851, Staglieno is renowned for the extraordinary quality and variety of its marble statuary. Much of this stone came from the quarries at Carrera, a source of sculptural marble since the days of Michelangelo. Uniting realism and allegory, Staglieno’s figurative tableaux were commissioned by wealthy families as enduring testaments to the social stature and personal character of the people interred there. Modified by deposits of dust and dirt, these figure groupings present a haunting, emotion-laden experience—an opportunity to contemplate the largest issues of life and art. Davis is an independent photographic historian, curator, author, and image maker. He retired from the position of senior curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, in 2020. In his 41-year curatorial career, Davis created nearly 100 exhibitions, taught and lectured extensively, and wrote or contributed essays to fifty books and catalogues. His awards include a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1986-87) for his work on the Civil War-era photographer George N. Barnard; and the 2018 award for career achievement from the Association of Independent Photography Art Dealers. He was honored to be included in James Stourton’s definitive study, Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 (Scala, 2007). He has lived in Sheridan, WY, since 2010.