Neal Rantoul is a career artist and educator. He retired from 30 years as head of the Photo Program at Northeastern University in Boston in 2012. He taught at Harvard University for thirteen years as well. He now devotes his efforts full time to making new work and bringing earlier work to a national and international audience. With over 60 one-person exhibitions over the length of his career, Rantoul continued in spring 2013 with two different bodies of work shown simultaneously: Wheat, aerial and ground-based photographs of the area in Southeastern Washington called “The Palouse” at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, MA and the Island Aerials, aerial photographs of the islands of Massachusetts at Panopticon Gallery in Boston, MA. In the winter of 2014 he showed new work from a residency in Iceland at 555 Gallery in Boston and in the fall showed work from the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia and the Spallanzani Collection in Reggio Emilia, Italy, also at 555 Gallery. New work called Monsters was shown at 555 Gallery in an exhibiton called Wild Thing in September and October 2015. Finally, Rantoul showed new aerial photographs from Salt Lake, Utah on display at Studio 416 at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston in January, 2016. Upcoming, the Monster photographs will be in a solo show at the Fitchburg Art Museum in central Massachusetts in September, 2016.
Rantoul’s work is extensively collected and is included in numerous permanent collections such as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA, the Kunsthaus in Zurich, the Biblioteque’ Nationale in Paris, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, The Princeton University Museum, The RI School of Design Museum of Art, The Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, The Boston Atheneum, etc. His work is also in the corporate collections of JP Morgan Guaranty Trust and Fidelity Investments, as well as numerous private collections. He is the recipient of many awards, grants and residencies including a Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation grant, Light Work, Hambidge Center for the Arts, the Baer Art Center in Iceland and Visiting Artist at ICP’s Lake Como Workshop in Italy, among others.
Neal Rantoul is continuing with an active teaching and lecturing schedule which includes a workshop in 2012 for the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, a class on the “Creative Process” for The Penland School of Crafts in the summer 2012 in North Carolina and a several day class for the New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists at their annual retreat in the fall of 2012 on Star Island off the coast off Portsmouth, NH. In 2013 he continued these activities with a lecture on his work for the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, another for the Boston Architectural College, teaching again at Penland as a co-teacher with three prominent architectural photographers in a Master Class in Architectural Photography and two workshops for Digital Silver Imaging in Belmont, MA on Portfolio Preparation. In the summer of 2014 Mr Rantoul taught again at Penland for two weeks with the author Christopher Benfey and reviewed graduate portfolios for the NH Institue of Art. He is teaching a class in the Spring of 2016 in Creative Practice at the Griffin Musuem of Photography in Winchester, MA.
Mr. Rantoul is the author of several books of his photographs, among those are: American Series published in 2006, Cabela's published in 2009, A Year published in 2010, Wheat published in 2011, Collections published in 2011, Rock Sand Water, published in 2012 and Above, aerial photographs of Martha’s Vineyard, published in 2013. His most recent books are Essays on Photography and the catalogue called Monsters that accompanies the show called Wild Thing at 555 Gallery in Boston in September, 2015. Both of these new books are available for sale through the gallery.
Finally, Mr. Rantoul served as an active board member of the Photographic Resource Center for six years and is on the Board of Corporators of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA serving on the Exhibition Committee, among others. He serves as a founding member of the non-profit service organization called Photo Legacy Strategies, a group formed to help photographers with archiving their work and with other legacy issues. He also reviews portfolios each year for the New England Portfolio Reviews (NEPR) held in Boston.
Mr. Rantoul lives in Cambridge, MA and has one daughter and one grand daughter.
Read WBUR's article on Neal Rantoul HERE.
Multiple portfolios of Neal Rantoul's are available for viewing in 555 Gallery's Flat Files.
"What was in front of us was an ancient large scale geological event and volcanic eruption, a huge upheaval of magma thrust from the crust eons ago and then eroded by waves and wind over centuries upon centuries, something so primal and so elemental as to be formative to this earth and its making. Some kind of glimpse backwards, peering over the edge at something seldom revealed and too important not to notice. To be in the presence of this cathedral of rock this monument to violent upheaval and extreme forces was a real honor and left me speechless and humbled, reduced in self importance or indeed so small when compared to something so big and powerful."
"The challenge for me is to shift slightly our understanding of landscape photographs and, ultimately, how we look at them."
"The work has evolved over the years, going from first black and white to color, from large format to digital, and from being based on the ground to including pictures made from the air. I have also photographed the area through the seasons. It is my longest running project.
It is a landscape almost without scale due to few trees and little to reference size, the pictures can convey the movement of the wheat in the breeze at the same time as show the stillness and static nature of the topography, allowing photographs that convey sharpness and blur due to movement in the same image simultaneously and finally, in the more recent work since about 2000, colors, on their own, but also in relationship to each other."
"The "Waves" idea is simple enough: to aerially photograph the breaking waves from the ocean side, not the land side. Land side picture of waves are the norm. I try to approach common stuff in uncommon ways. Atypical verses typical, exceptional verses standard, innovative verses commonplace. That's what you try to do, right? The world out there presents you with an infinite number of possibilities. Our job is to see the inherent choices implicit in this."
"While waiting to board the ferry to the island in Woods Hole, I saw that that there were many antique cars waiting as well. They were from a MASS Antique Auto Club and were headed to an Oak Bluffs hotel for the weekend. I got the camera out of the back of the car and it had the long lens on it, the same one I'd used for most of the Monsters pictures. A fateful decision but a good one, as it turned out. In sunlight these immaculately restored automobiles would be the same old same old but wet from the night's rain."