Joseph Jachna
No title, 1975

13.5 in H x 10.5 in W
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About the Artist

Joseph Jachna

DiedApril 2016
BirthplaceChicago, IL
CitizenshipUnited States
Cultural HeritageEuropean-American
Light Work RelationshipCommunity Darkrooms Member, 1973 – 1975
Light Work Gallery, 1975
Workshop, 1975
Lecturer, 1975


Joseph Jachna attended the renowned Institute of Design (ID), earning a BS in art education (1958) and later an MS in photography (1961). As a graduate student Jachna studied with both Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. He would go on to teach  alongside Siskind at the Institute of Design from 1961 until 1969, at which point he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was named professor emeritus.


Some music seems parallel to my work; my strongest counterpart being that of Anton Webern. I found in his carefully calculated, minimal notations some similarities to my own desire to reduce the number of elements within a picture to very few. These comments will most obviously apply to work more than three years old -- the rocks, water, ice and snow -- but possibly there are traces of those inclinations in the newest work which was done with an extremely wide-angle lens.

The water images become something of their own. They are more than I recorded. They have a quality of abstraction which permits them to enter into another world, a world which I am helpless to do anything about but to follow. And in doing it, what gets constructed is a picture that my imagination cannot create, because it comes from deeper down. I like to see those things. They just happen to me, and to me those are the high points in my whole photographic production. Things come together in a way. They just work out on their own terms. I don't have to be responsible for every aspect of the picture. I just have to do a part, my part, and let the rest go.

When I started, I thought I made the photographs about water, but not when I ended. I realized the water was just subject matter, or material. It was a strong enough material that I could follow my own purposes through it, and it would hold up by itself.'

Joseph Jachna 1964

Joseph Jackna has studied with both Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan and is a graduate of the Institute of Design in Chicago. He has exhibited widely and has worked in commercial photography.