George Tice

2015 Honoree: Lifetime Achievement Award


George Tice has been working in the field of photography for more than 60 years, focusing his camera on the American rural and urban landscape. He is drawn to vestiges of American culture on the verge of extinction – from people in rural or small-town communities to urban and suburban neighborhoods that are often in decline.

Tice was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey in 1938. At fourteen, he joined the Carteret Camera Club and later worked as a darkroom assistant for a Newark portrait studio. After enlisting in the U.S. Navy at age seventeen, Tice’s talent quickly promoted him to Photographers Mate Third Class. One of his images of an “Explosion Aboard the U.S.S. Wasp, 1959” was acquired for the Museum of Modern Art by photographer Edward Steichen. After his navy service Tice worked as a home portrait photographer for the next decade.

In the 1960s, Tice shifted from smaller camera formats to larger ones, which enabled him to craft finely detailed prints. George Tice is considered a virtuoso of the fine print, and a master printer, not only of his own work, but for others for whom he has made fine prints. During this time, he met Lee Witkin and helped establish the Witkin Gallery, the first commercially successful gallery in New York dedicated to fine art photography. The association with Witkin also led to Tice printing limited-edition portfolios of some of his favorite photographers, among them Edward Steichen, Edward Weston and Fredrick H. Evans, as well as other important photographers including Francis Bruguiere, Ralph Steiner and Lewis Hine.

By 1970, thanks in part to shows and sales of his work through Witkin, Tice was able to concentrate entirely on his own photography. The extended photographic essay is an important part of Tice’s work. The form and process of each project is an investigation leading to a book. Tice taught a master class at The New School, NYC and the Maine Media Workshop for over twenty-five years.

Tice has had eighteen books published to date. His first book Fields of Peace, documented the life of Amish and Mennonite communities of Pennsylvania. In the late 1960’s, Tice began exploring his home state and those photographs formed the beginnings of two of his best-known books: Urban Landscapes, A New Jersey Portrait, (1975) and Paterson, (1972), with sequels, George Tice : Urban Landscapes in 2002, Common Mementos in 2005 and Paterson II in 2006. His most recent book Seldom Seen (2013) is a collection of previously unpublished photographs. James Rhem states in an article in Focus Magazine, “The stillness in what Tice himself describes as the “sad beauty” of his urban scenes has a different weight, the weight of history, not moments, but stories evolving.”

His photographs have been exhibited internationally and are represented in the collections of many institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, The Getty Museum, Whitney Museum, Newark Museum and the Bibliotheque Nationale. He has received fellowships and commissions from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the National Media Museum, (UK). In 2003, he received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from William Paterson University.

Tice, a 10th generation New Jerseyan, makes his home on the Jersey Shore.